This first novel has a brooding, elemental cast and takes much of its primeval strength from its central figure, Henry Sawyer. Henry, after his young wife Pasiphy's casual infidelity, retreats to the Maine woods, leaves her alone to have her first child (always hers- not his), Justin, who is born with a physical stigma- a dragging leg. In the years to come, Henry's life follows the cycle of the seasons, farming, trapping, hunting, while the gentle Pasiphy gives him his own children- Valery, George, Philip and Hazel. A patriarch with an overpowering devotion to his land- to his family, Henry is abandoned- one by one- by his firstborn, drowned in the river; by his second son, killed in an accident; by Justin and Val who go off to the city; and finally Hazel whom he marries off-knowingly- to half a man. At the end, alone with Pasiphy, he makes his peace with the past, with her, with himself.... Toned by the lonely country, the inward, self-imposed struggle of a man determined to leave an impress on the world-and denied, this has a sombre stoicism and compassion.