In a small New Zealand town, Maura Prince, forty-three, finds her life circumscribed by a blind, failing mother whom she nurses, the visits of the minister's wife and the Women's Mission, and the dilapidated gentility of the large old house in which they live alone. Until they take in Percy Smith, as a roomer, to do the gardens. Percy is under eighteen, with a dubious record, many grievances, and he has an underprivileged appeal for the unloved Maura. She mothers him; he moves into her bed; is alternately sullen, impudent, calculating, playful, and eventually essential in Maura's life during and after the death of her mother. This, of course, is a trying theme and the almost incongruously pitiful relationship could be an ungrateful one were Miss Cowley, in her first novel, not such a very good writer. A plain one, to be sure, but so persuasive that she involves the reader in the limited, if not threadbare, circumstances of Maura's late and impossible love to a considerable degree. A quiet achievement.