With some walls four feet thick and so many windows that an accurate count is impossible, rose-covered Copsi Castle is unique in England for passing from father to son in a succession unbroken since 1071. By 1837 Copsi is a heritage that the present owner, Sir Harald, is not about to relinquish. Unfortunately, his only son, Magnus, is a madman. Sir Harald deals with this fact by ignoring it. When Magnus covets Hannah Reeve, daughter of one of their tenant farmers, Sir Harald pleads, ""Think of Copsi. . . . A worthy girl no doubt. But mistress here!"" but then proceeds to buy the reluctant Hannah for the sake of Copsi's continuation. Though dangerously obsessed with Copsi, Sir Harald in other ways is thoroughly nice, even housing a diverting group of relatives who only have to admire Copsi to gain Sir Harald's hospitality. But Magnus grows madder, hating his new wife (a super-sensible 16-year-old) and beating her with a riding crop on their wedding night. When he finally does bed her, Astley (who wrote The Fall of Midas and is also Norah Lofts) fudges the scene, but smoothly; even the references here and there to homosexuality, castration, and lesbianism somehow blend in quietly as this relatively restrained tale re-runs a surefire theme--a man fighting for his ancestral home--with graceful appeal.