An impressive first novel which handles the mosaic of large family life and relations with sensitive and calculated skill. For the Martins, of Galloway, Mass., are ten in number and this gives an intimate picture of their household solidarity, their individual torments, despairs and moments of exuberance. The father who knows failure, the mother whose visions do not fail her, Joe who must be footloose, Francis who must be solitary, Peter who questions, Liz who runs away, Ruth and Rose and Mickey and Charley -- all know the security of the old home, the sorrow of the breakup when they move to a tenement, and the ending of the unit when the war comes along. And it is through their lives during the war-all scattered by it -- that reunion at their father's death takes on a deeper and stronger tone. There is an unremitting emphasis in the following of each personal life, there is a lyrical rhythm to the writing, a certain control in the handling, that keeps alive the interest in what might have been an overlong novel whose reality is neither forced nor raw.