A first novel, indiscernibly so, which is a sharp-edged, realistically reminiscent portrayal of a soured marriage and the casualties it entailed, and which moves effectively from the monotony of daily discord to ultimate tragedy. Here are the Irelands, living shabbily on a shabby city street; Mark, attractive, gentle, weak and ineffectual against the shrewd, suspicious, narrow minded, nasty minded tactics of his wife, Alice; Ellen, their older daughter, who escapes from the fights at home through her first beaux; and Jessie, six, who spends nervous days and terrifying nights as she is deliberately dragged into all the sordid scenes between her parents. When Mark falls in love with another woman, it is Alice who uses Jessie to spy out the proof of his infidelity and Jessie's last security disintegrates. Ellen, alone protective of Jessie and aware of the damage that has been done, marries a boy she does not love in order that she can take Jessie away from home, while Jessie- exposed to one fight too many- suicides... The stupidity and insensitivity of a bromidic woman, and its repercussions on the lives around her, make an unsparing, moving story.