This novel which begins and ends at the funeral of a college president, makes the rounds of various members of the faculty in between. This seems to be the technique used in almost all of the novels dealing with the academic life. and it necessarily entails a good deal of exposition, very little action. What action there is, beyond the obsequies, is not very much more cheerful: it centers around Tony Hallam, a widower, fortyish, ""with the years ranged around him like poor relations-- waiting"" as he returns to England briefly to escort the body of his brother, in a coffin. It also deals with the suicide of a graduate student in the Stacks of the library, another young man rejected by life. This is pretty disconsolate material to overcome, which is too bad; the author writes very well, with a noticing eye for a good many of the characters who appear here and the circumstances of their lives.