A novel about love -- but not for the light romantic readers of your rental market. For this, in spite of the emphasis on volupte, on the charm and the guilt and the sadness of sex, and the sternal triangle, raises its sights to the thesis that ""hope is a mania"" and that people do ""not have to like people to help"" them....All of which British Godfrey Ansell learns when he goes to Paris, on business, having left his bumbling, apparently barren, wife, Tilly, in England, and, in protecting Sara wraps himself in an affaire which compensates for his childhood and adult frustrations. There is his friend Laster, committed to the Communists, and Shire, on police business, to complicate the intricacy of his stay, and then there in Sara's brother, Nicky, in trouble with the British Air Force, and revealing their Negro heritage, to rub Ansell's nose into the fact of his sheltered, isolationist life. So that when Nicky dies and Sara is to marry Laster, Ansell can return to Tilly with the knowledge that morals and politics are more than worthy bedfellows. An emotional conjuring trick, with grave and polite overtones, this has a graciousness of nuance,- a feeling for today's questions that gives it a more than specious appeal.