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Slow, quiet, simply-told but absorbing, this is the story of a few crucial months in the inner life of a middle-aged farmer. Haley Blair lives on a Southern farm, inherited from his grandfather. Rumors of gold buried on the land have over the years brought treasure seekers to plague Haley. Otherwise, he lives a solitary life, except for his wife, son, and his brother's family on the adjoining farm. When his wife dies, Haley is freed; he has never loved her, but married her and retreated into farming after being expelled from college because of a passionate affair with a professor's wife. Now, in his first freedom, he plans cautiously to remarry properly, a widowed school teacher. But he is, more or less by accident, drawn into a love affair with Terry, the sister of ne'er do well brothers. All his old guilts and conflicts are reawakened. Against a simple rural background of minor social events, plowing, etc., the story unwinds the complexities of a man taught, by past guilt, to fear those very complexities. Haley is seeking another kind of gold -- love, truth; but, in the end, he slides from unbearable truths into comfortable self delusion. He becomes fiercely religious; he marries the school teacher. When his son accidentally kills Terry, when Haley's young bull (a symbol of his youth) dies, Haley can contemplate these losses from a fortress of complacency. Told with deceptive rambling naturalness, the story evokes both a real outer, small town life, and many echoes of profound, universal human dilemmas. Best- it gives the reader that rarest gift of fiction,- the sense of having entered wholly into another human's life and mind.

Publisher: Doubleday