There is almost unrelieved sobriety -- except for its horsemanship and English outdoor scones -- in this account of Hugh Maunt's inability to escape his shadow life and to turn to one of truer reality. In mutiny against living, at odds with the chances his social level limits him to, he has no communication with his father or aunt, but does achieve an area of understanding with his uncle, aunt and their daughter, in his love of horses and racing, in the belief that he can be quit of the troubles he causes himself and others. Young Fennel, a violin student, becomes his touchstone but even with her -- with the untrue pictures of his part in what is happening at the paint factory -- he never reaches full integrity. When she leaves, his marriage to Ethel is doomed so that when he walks out on Ethel, it is to the gelding killer, Moonraker, that he turns to train for the Charlton Cup. His win comes through treachery and when he is accused of killing Fennel he realizes that there is -- for him -- no self to destroy -- he is only a man in a mirror. The rotter, the bounder of the late '20s, early '30s, whose tricks of charm continue to obliterate all attempts to prove himself, here, through his heritage, environment, pride -- and circumstances -- touches some nobility in his final diminishing.