A quiet collection of short stories of experience de-emphasized which are said to paraphrase Ivy Litvinov's own life (she was the wife of the Russian diplomat). She is first introduced in England as the small child Eileen, and again as the daughter of the young woman who had to keep telling herself that she was right in selecting one of two unprepossessing candidates as a second husband and necessary source of maintenance. In time Eileen will grow up, go to work as a clerk, and then marry an older Russian ""professional revolutionary."" Later stories are Russian in their setting and varied in their persona: in ""The Boy Who Laughed"" (which just appeared in The New Yorker as did several of these) a mother keeps a long vigil for her retarded son who disappears; and then there's the disrupted romance of ""Bright Shores."" The closing venue is England again, and the disconsolate ""Sowing Asphodel"" about a very elderly woman on the outskirts of life is perhaps the one you'll remember best. All once removed, to be sure, from the clamant modern world but a tactful, tasteful and undeluded retrospective.