In other books-back to The Garretson Chronicle and forward to this reader's choice-The World of Carrick's Cove- Gerald Brace has written with a leisurely sense of time and place, with moments of nostalgia, with sobriety and integrity -- but always with more concentration on mood than pace. Perhaps all this is true once again- but something fundamental is lacking in this new book -- a note of hope, of aspiration. The whole story is told on the downbeat; the Eustaces of East Compton, a colorless town within commuting distance of Boston, were that sorriest of families who had known better days, and had never acknowledged their defeat. The father was a permanent failure, and the turn of the tide at the ""winter solstice"" brought news that his meagre job as glorified janitor at the college was being eliminated. His wife, Josephine, lived wholly in a past that had its mead of promise; today meant nothing to her in terms of home or family, and the dishes accumulated unwashed while she read and reread Trollope. The central figure, Mary Kyle, the elder daughter, seems destined for spinsterhood; her one chance lay in the rather hopeless direction of the married oddball who was the choirmaster; her suitors were a drab lot with little to attract her. Her younger sister, experimenting with freedom found herself pregnant. And the one brother smashed up a car and killed his best friend. Or such ingredients the story is made. Perhaps there are many such families in a sorry world, but it is hard to find a ray of light in the darkness of this novel.