The setting is Cape Breton, Nova Scotia; the people, most of them from Scottish mining background, plus the few who have cast in their lot with them, the older doctor and his associate, MacKenzie and Ainslie; and the mysterious Frenchman, Camire. An intensely moral people these Scottish Highlanders, driven by the doctrines of sin which is their heritage, and paying a mighty price. There is violence breaking out now and again, but to Mollie the thought that her husband Archie is making a livelihood by fighting for money seems a shameful thing, and she tries to hide it from their son, Alan. Archie has been away four years- and silent for months. Other men have cast covetous eyes on her. One man, Dr. Ainslie, yearns for her son to raise as his own, but finds his wife, Margaret, bitterly resentful. How the story works out to an end that is probably right for Alan, at a great price, is told in a pattern steeped in the almost murky atmosphere of the tensions, physical and moral, of the land and the people. Hugh MacLennan has never quite come up to the promise of his other book, Two Solitudes, but here he has succeeded in bringing his plot and his characters into a unity that was lacking in earlier books. And he is always worth reading.