The accomplishment of this small, calm-surfaced novel is the plasmic sense it gives of time as five, and finally six, generations of the Nye-DeGolyer clan are summoned forth in a relay of recollections. Grandfather Nye, the custodian of old family manuscripts and articulate medium for most of these ghosts, is the essence of the family legacy with his dovetailing passions for nature and culture, easily reconciled with the duties of business and householding and set off by a traveling lecturer's elan. Like her grandfather, and most of the other characters, the heroine Vanessa Nye only half emerges from the commonalities of blood -- a time-dissolving undertow of resemblances and repetitions -- but the terms of expression are almost entirely those of historical midwestern American experience, specifics as sharp and spare as the back page of a family bible. Although Vanessa passes through phases of homely initiation and a bereavement of her own to an independent life, its substance is never disclosed. All that matters here is the root -- tough, gnarled, bittersweet, admittedly limited, and rarely exposed nowadays save in simple genre fiction. Miss Green, however, achieves a consistency that is simultaneously dense and incorporeal, and by plain means suggests the full mystery of genesis.