This was a disappointment, for it is heralded as Aragon's biggest book yet available for American readers. I found it dull and far from pleasant reading. I had small use for any of the characters, small sympathy for the motivating force, the need for freedom from responsibility which drove the real Pierre Mercadier to desert his family, pocket his dwindling funds and do himself a ""moon and sixpence"" until such time as he was down to his last copper and a park bench. The one claim which the book made on my keen interest was the filling in of the background of the generation in France proceeding the first world war, a picture too often paralleled in the years before this war. The story is handled in a vast Grand Hotel pattern, zigzagging, cross-sectioning classes and types of provincial, rural and urban France. Aragon, typically French, follows the Latin bias towards sex and extra-marital relations, and takes adolescent experimentation and brothels in his stride. They seem all pervasive. He has a gift for sweeping one along in his vivid portrayal of life, character, points of view, then one comes up sharp against the main characters, the central plot -- and he fails to strike the rhythm of the average American reader.