A modern saga of an exorbitantly boorish, remarkably prolific, incurably common and extremely wealthy English family turns upon the relationship between Nigel Tufnell-Greens, the ""black-sheep"" of the family, and his elder brother Geoffrey. Aggressively robust, self-confident and arrogant, Geoffrey exhibits his prowess at games, at killing Germans with gisto during World War I and- later, in victimizing his insipid wife. Nigel is notably ineffective, adolescently rebellious and dabbies in everything from painting to composing. Nigel's feelings for his older brother are blended of intense hatred and an equally intense idolization and hero-worship. Geoffrey constantly plays the heavy-handed older brother (he is especially concerned about his brother's sexuality, as are several of Nigel's Friends) until, ultimately, he is convicted of fraud, a blow from which his family never recover. The circle of reversals is completed when Nigel marries, becomes a war hero, writes a best-selling novel, dies stoically and leaves his wife to marry Geoffrey and discover that it is the elder brother who is the homosexual. The narrative here is handled very skillfully in a sustained flashback, and the picture of English middle-class conventionality is effectively depressing, if slightly overdone. A better-than-average family drama.