This is a warm family story -- but it is also long suffering. Against Brooklyn and New York scenes of the early 1900's, the Dudleys move from affluence to adversity when Dody, who is allergic to practical living, succumbs to the lure of gambling, appropriates insurance premiums and, with his Lavinia's help, pulls himself out of near-nasty scrapes. The children, Don, Margaret and Nancy know the loving scorn of relatives and the humiliation of constant moves- from house to family visits, from rooming houses to apartments -- as money is non-existent and rents must be met. But Dody's happy generosity and Lavinia's comforting, consoling faith bind them together and they are even closer when Lavinia's health gives away so that they are in honor bound to protect her from the truth of further missteps. When she dies they can face a future without her because of the strength she has given them. The constant of misfortune is balanced by the constant of family loyalty and for readers jaded by violence and unpleasantness there's reliable relaxing rather than gruesomely grim reality.