This is the Dodd, Mead-Red Book prize winning first novel, and good reading. Harlow Estes shows a real gift for characterization, dialogue and situation, though the story is singularly lacking in any sense of time or place. In the whole span of a good tale, one finds no clue to what is going on in the outside world, or where the story takes place other than that it is the seashore. Within its compass, the story itself is fast paced; the characters of Hildreth, 19 and convinced that her mission in life is to order other people's lives, of her spoiled, divorced mother, her young, widowed aunt and family of small children, and the capable and devoted nurse whose one interest is tied up with the children she cares for -- all are well drawn. Hildreth's childhood playmate, now struggling to find a foothold in a business world, is a bit thinly drawn, but the incidents by which Hildreth virtually thrusts him out of her life, are original in conception and execution. A thoroughly readable tale.