The author of Years Are So Long has taken a new theme for her novel -- the ever-present question of the budget, particularly for the vast numbers of people who seem incapable of adding. She has built her story around a singularly ungifted family in this sphere of simple arithmetic. The father considers owning a house (whether or not he can pay for it) an essential of right living; the mother hopefully states that she runs the household, buys the clothes and always has good food on $15. a week, and complains at not having a surplus for installment buying of electric apparatus; the two daughters and the son all aspire beyond their gifts, and think there's always prosperity round the corner. A better balanced, better written book than the other, though not so popular a theme.