This is a pleasantly old fashioned and suavely styled story which is eminently British in character and a relief from the sultry violence of many of our contemporary novels. Swinnerton has- as always- a sensitive finger on the strings that pull his characters, a grasp of the unity of his story- although his characters rarely assume reality. And Jim Probity, his central figure, remains something of a stick throughout. His worship of his father stays by him through the years, and at the end he can't quite face the demolition of his image; his years in a shabby tenement, under the surveillance of an aunt who dares not show affection- an uncle who resents him- cousins who tease him- fail to make a man of him although he achieves a measure of success in his chosen profession, journalism. The soft bed to lie on is made possible by the possessive advocacy of his publisher's amorous wife. But Jim's deeper affection is still anchored to Olga, another tenement child who had made good and whom he marries while jeopardizing his future. Never an admirable figure, Jim emerges as somewhat naive- at the end- as he was in the beginning- of a story that makes full circle. One is aware-as too rarely in American novels- of the background of England of the first quarter of the century, of the average citizen's concern with politics and economics and world affairs, of the slow change in the pattern of living.