The handful of time about which Miss Foley writes is the twenty years (1938-1958) between the first meeting of Fanny Brand and Frances Lorimer and the death of Fanny in a sailing accident. Almost all of the novel takes place in the donnish, island-insulated atmosphere of Cambridge to which each of the girls has come to study. Frances, an English girl, has relocated in an attempt to escape the stodgy, narrow world of her loveless parents; Fanny has fled from her native Austria, fled from the passive, tragic sense of life symbolized by her grandmother and actualized by her mother. Naive, romantic Frances watches with helplessness as the girl of whom she is so fond ""plays out her myths"" in a tragic, one-sided love affair with a bullish Irish intellectual who refuses to chose between his wife and Fanny. The one overt action which Frances takes -- when she goes to the wife in an attempt to convince her to give her husband up -- only hastens the demise of Fanny Brand...This is a subtle, complex, multilayered novel, dependent in its effect upon precious interplay and Proustean accumulation. Far too demanding for wide readership.