The author of Bullivant and the Lambs writes, again in her precious, polished -- if for the average reader, sterile, style, this time of the surface and subsurface events in the Shelley household. Here are the secrets of the adults, as well as those of the juvenile world, for Sir Roderick and his second wife, Maria, suffer the problems of sending their two children, Clemence and Sefton, away to school. While the children have a world of their own with Aldom, the mimicking man servant, their kind nurse, Adela, and their well trained governess, Miss Petticott, through their enhanced perception they have a mature view of the grownup world. The decision made, they are sent to separate schools, each run by a sister of Roderick's first wife, and there they undergo mental rather than physical hazing. Both get away with cheating through the term only to be caught and the news brought to their parents, whose decision then is to keep them at home. The denouement of their misbehavior is underscored by the cheating among the adults:- Roderick's bastard son is disclosed, as his father-in-law's and Maria's theft of a valuable earring is brought to light. A party for the children's school friends winds up the book with Clemence declaring, ""There is nothing left. Nothing good."" A timeless, unworldly, juggling of ordered conversations, a refinement of the nuances of family life -- these add up to a book for highly selective palates, a conditioned audience.