Freeman seems to have a faculty for getting under the skin of his rural characters and making them live. Hester is a ""natural"" -- passion is as spontaneous and as readily expressed as hunger in some. And the result -- in her family -- makes the theme of this story. There is nothing of salacious sexiness --sex simply is, and that's that. A story of rural England not long before the war -- but chiefly the story of Hester, child of nature, with no outward circumstances to give her joy, but with an abundant font of joy within, and a zest for life which found its mate -- after several false starts -- in a racetrack gambler. The most interesting novel he has done since Joseph and His Brethren.