The Small Widow had always been the little woman to her husband but now is expected to cope alone at his death. Julia is ""small and seemly and faithful,"" yes, and she has always accommodated herself to the needs of her family--four children, grown at this time, to whom she is superfluous. Janet McNeill who wrote about middle age in The Belfast Friends (1966) now handles the still more diminished existence which is widowhood and isolates, quietly articulates, its besetting problems: Julia's initial withdrawal and confusion (no great grief, for reasons which will be later explained if earlier suspected); her awkward stays with her children and grandchildren (""a wilderness of toes to tread on""); her need to find some life, and some identity, of her own. . . . Subdued, like the hiatus with which it deals, but in the use of sympathetically unremarkable materials, well within the reach and recognition of any woman of middle years.