Juli comes out of the same bush town in the outback in the '30's and has the same narrator as the earlier, lighter-hearted, A Sporting Proposition. And it's still hard to indicate Aldridge's virtues, which include a most likable humanity and a sense of character just off-sides--his people are often as plain as a brown paper bag. This one deals with Kit Quayle's friendship for a boy his age, Juli, of unknown origins. His mother, toward whom he has many ambivalent feelings, runs a boarding house whose few residents, led by the evangelist Dr. Holmes, conduct their ""bath-tub religion"" designed to wash away the wickedness of the world while inferentially promoting it. Juli, calm, maddeningly detached, keeps his ""back to the wall"" and his feelings, except for music and poetry, are well-guarded until the sudden death of his mother (bayoneted in the kitchen in her nightgown) which brings more than the youngster to trial--in fact the whole small- and-dirty-mindedness of this remote part of the world. Aldridge tells a forthright story of home troths and unexpected consequences with some unwritten speculations to extend its reach.