Sam Berridge, morbidly curious watchmender, sits in his shop window and broods over the foibles and activities of all he can see on the main street of a somewhat drab suburb of London. Much of this story is experienced through his prying. His opposite neighbor, Al Summer, is the beloved doctor, who plays no politics to keep his place in the town's activities. But to him, his hospital- now under National Health Service- was his life. His wife, Adelaide, had failed him, but he covered for her, and pretended a blindness he needed to safeguard the family. His daughter, Monica, home from school, was his joy; his boy Jock was his mother's idol. Into the story comes Lucy Staveley, whose sister Helen has thrown herself down the well rather than go into a hospital, and whose mother had a mental breakdown. Then there are the figures outside Sam's view, figures that determine the actions of his characters,- the new, young and scheming doctor, the refuges psychiatrist, whose past connection with Adelaide provides motivation for much of the story, other residents of the community. And drama- at times melodrama- takes place, demanding his interpretation- and as often, misinterpretation. Fortunately, Swinnerton emerges from the frame often enough to give the story more pace and form than otherwise. Meticulously detailed, it provides a careful portrait of today's England.