Another ho-hum installment of Tanner's English mining-family saga (begun in The Hours of Light and The Emerald Valley), set in the Somerset town of Hillbridge at the beginning of WW II. Series followers will recall the mining matriarch, Charlotte Hall, whose daughter, Amy, marries into the Roberts hauling firm. Book three concerns Amy's daughter Babs, who at 16 takes a dangerous shine to her adopted brother, Huw--dangerous because, as only Amy knows, he's Babs' half brother. So the affair is nipped in the bud by a vigilant mother, leaving Babs to marry the local mine-owner's son, Marcus Spindler--who turns out to be a half-crazed, physically abusive husband instead of the decorated war hero he seems. Meanwhile, Huw takes the controls of a Spitfire, and learns he isn't really related to Babs just before being shot down in occupied France. Back at the mine, another Hall--young Harry--gets into politics, Labour-style, and watches his childless wife, Margaret, grow too close to a little London evacuee. But everything gets sorted out when a doodlebug bomb lands smack-dab on the girl's sluttish mother, leaving the girl available for adoption by Margaret, and when Huw comes home from France to save Babs from awful Marcus. In the end, perhaps Babs' words best sum up the Hall family style: after being raped by Marcus, she says, ""It's all right, Marcus. . .Come to bed. But for heaven's sake, let's try to lead a normal life from now on."" Stifling-cozy and long-winded: a fictional meat-pie only for readers who've already made a commitment to the series.