This is an easy going, realistic account of life on the Olivers' sprawling, rather shabby, but well-to-do western ranch. Young Matt Oliver, head of the clan, is troubled by his responsibilities toward his household- and his wife, a gentle woman dismayed by the graceless hurly-burly of work and visiting relatives. Wanting to discuss his problems, he asks his younger brother Paul, a poet and recent college graduate, to come home and help. Paul arrives reluctantly, bringing his tentative fiancee, the city-bred teacher, Elizabeth. Clan life is a curiosity to the fastidious Elizabeth and her ambitions for Paul, her sense of superiority, her basic confusions, slowly develop into an active dislike of the family and a fantasy that Matt is attracted to her. When her egocentric illusions finally rout her, she tries to destroy the Olivers but in the subsequent blow-up they finally make peace with each other..The author is perhaps best in this portrait of a defensive intellectual, but the others are good too- and the book is delightful in its real feel for the country, the weather, and the many accidents, chores, and dreams that shape personalities.