A first novel which is distinguished by precise, incisive characterization, by a style which ranges from the derisive to the sympathetic and conflict rising from temperaments at odds. Against an effectively-scalped community of small town society (Watertown), of women out for each other's blood and men, is set the story of Maggie and Ned; Maggie, who is irresolute, passive, and who retreats behind aloofness to preserve the marriage; Ned who is superficially respectable, but essentially a bully, with a great fondness for heroics and wearing the martyr's crown. Unable to unnerve Maggie with his quiet infidelities, Ned takes to open adultery and to physical violence, and finally forces her to leave home, penniless. Brought to facing a decision, she wins her case against him on the grounds of non-support, she keeps the children and goes on to a happier future with someone else. Intelligent handling of marital discord. Primarily for women readers, but above level of average rental novel.