This first novel by an Englishwoman concerns a Don Juan named Ariel, who when struck down by sudden illness, argues with Death and relives his past, winding up convalescent and resolved to mend his ways. The theme is a trifle exaggerated. Ariel, a charming, rich, boy-man, has dozens of mistresses and no sense of responsibility; his competent, long-suffering wife Ellen, who bears with him and manages the house and their rose-growing business, represents the Superior Feminine Virtues echoed as well by Ariel's chief mistresses. Despite the slant toward female superiority, the story has an English domestic wit and believability, and moves briskly through Ariel's spats with his wife who moves out with their faithful friend John, for a while), his rather dependent relations with his mistresses, and descriptions of his life, mind, country and incidental friends. Parochial but entertaining, this novel shows a promising skill and polish.