For those who dream of marbled halls and peers that dwell therein -- this is the progress of the Ninth Marquess, Henry Aiden, from World War II to the present unsettling egalitarianism pervading the sceptered isle. Although the characters plod through their repertory roles and coincidence wheezes throughout, Cleary writes occasionally quippy dialogue and plots vigorously. So there's Henry, whose marriage to Constance (she married above her station) was happy until a series of one night affairs. But Henry doesn't learn, even if most extramarital jaunts end in disaster: one girl is mutilated the morning after by the Mau; another, after telling diplomatic secrets, is discovered with Henry by her husband, a former friend; a ski beauty spills the beans inadvertently to Constance at a resort. And so on. Meanwhile Henry travels about, rises in Tory politics (for no reason discernible here), sees his daughter falling in love with the butler's son, and his own heir is bashed in a radical demonstration by the bobbies. Realization of his own shortcomings blocks his appointment as P.M., but he is reunited with Constance and bends gracefully to the winds of change. Tantantara zing-boom!