In the form of an explanation to his mother, along with some quasi-philosophical asides- to himself, this backward look traces the turnabout of Spencer Lang from old colonial to new liberal. The novel, which is a little dilatory to begin with is never more than desultory at best. It returns, progressively in reverse, to a briefly renewed affair in London after the war with Angela, a showily, aggressively ""free"" woman; then to his marriage to Carol in Malaya where both had inherited material interest to protect as well as the vested point of view of colonialism. The marriage, which begins with shared tastes and pleasures, leads on to boredom-and finally to boredom- and finally to hatred after the war and Spencer's internment which revises his outlook. He is ready to accept the change there which Carol defies, combatively, and finally at the expense of her life....A physical and ideological terrain which has been dealt with in more forceful terms- which it demands if it is to attract American interest today.