Puzzlingly readable -- for the plot seems spun too thin over too long a book, but the situation is one that the reader wants to see solved, and the characters are so well drawn that one wants to carry through with them to the close. The period is mid and late Victorian (1880-92). Wisconsin and Missouri form backgrounds for a family story, starting at the top of the social and economic ladder, and taking the skids as an ebuliently optimistic father, always taken in by new things, ""suffers reverses"" from which his sons-in-law rescue him. The thread of the river winds through the story, and the river takes its toll, of the living and the dead. Put the central theme is the problem of adjustment as two young people, well-mated, are faced with a double problem, as the man is caught in the meshes of the family fortunes and the girl escapes reality into invalidism. Not until Neel starts in on his own, does there seem a chance for rehabilitation of their marriage.