A warming, inordinately appealing tale about love and loss set in working-class, between-the-wars England--complete with eccentric old ladies, insensitive stuffed shirts, foggy town streets, and the fire-lit grates of the nostalgic past. The household of four-year-old Benbow's Grandpa and Grandma Dorman is solidly cold-mutton-on-Monday predictable right at the end of World War I. Benbow's mother Nell, the sad, sweet, compliant widow of war casualty Tom, does the chores and fetches and carries for the crabby, self-righteous Dormans. And on Sunday there are visits from: Great-Aunt Min, a briny-tongued mistress of damaging gossip; Great-Aunt Mabel, preceded by the aroma of pigs which she raises on her damp holding on the marsh (which she shares with Siegfried, an endearingly vacant German POW); Aunt Edith, who sings with the voice of a train approaching a tunnel; and nasty cousin Crystal. However, bitter Aunt Alice, racked by the tragedies she sees every day as a nurse for war-wounded, visits as little as possible; her fiancÃ‰ Frank Hardy is at the front, and as a kind of crazy penance she's having an affair with a cloddish butcher. Will Benbow's mother Nell ever escape this domestic prison? Yes, briefly--thanks to a firm proposal from mercurial Taffy Evans. But then Taffy runs off with Nell's cousin, so it's back to the in-laws (who, short of servants, condescend to take her in). And through the years, other loves will also go wrong: Alice and Frank will part just short of the altar, thanks to good old Great-Aunt Min; and an adolescent Benbow will fall in love with returned Siegfried's daughter, Ulrike, only to lose her to the pre-WW II Nazi movement. With a sentimental, updating epilogue set in 1978--an immensely readable offbeat family saga. . . and a must for devotees of sheer warmth and charm in the J. B. Priestley manner.