The gifts of capturing essentials of character and making her scenes live in memory so evident in The Friendly Persuasion are present in this first major novel from Jessamyn West. That the characters are oddly assorted, most of them a bit off balance, that the scenes bring laughter and tears close together, with more of tears than laughter, and that the story mounts to grim climax and final catastrophe, is part of the challenge. The title is symbolic, with a slightly mad brother and sister, inmates of the Poor Farm where most of the action takes place, acting out their belief that they can find, by divine guidance and consistent digging, their lost hope and faith. But each character in the story is in some measure seeking an answer:- Link Conboy, who gave up the law for a life of service as director of the Poor Farm; Lib, his wife, who adored him but couldn't show it, and who cheated her children of their birthright of affection and understanding; Dandie, whose sensual appetites almost wrecked him; Cate, strangled in her love for Christie by inhibitions and ignorance; Em, the little sister, taking adolescence hard; the ""folks"" of the Poor House, down and outers; and the two men who loved Cate, Christie, whose normality was his undoing, and Ferris, whose priggishness wrecked what was at best a makeshift marriage. Turn of the century and Southern Indiana -- for a novel that is perhaps better in its parts than its entirety.