It is hard to put a finger on the special quality that distinguishes Frances Frost's surgical analysis of small town life from that of other authors. But she certainly succeeds in making her characters -- even her minor characters -- live and breathe. This is the story of Kate Trimingham, spinster and music teacher, who spoils the children who come to her, and is beloved by them; and it is equally the story of her lifelong friend, Sara Drew, newly a great-grandmother and rejoicing in it, and ready to cast off the shackles of the daughter-in-law who supervises her every move and is always thinking of what people say. The death of an unhappy child, who could not stand her parents' quarreling, and the innocent message she left for her adored music teacher, are made the basis for mounting suspicion, gossip and malicious action against Miss Trimingham. And Mrs. Drew, alone of her friends, comes to her active defense. A story of the danger of gossip -- humanized through the small town characters. I liked it -- though it doesn't measure up to Uncle Snowball.