Ludwig Bemelmans rarely writes a novel that conforms to any pattern and this is no exception. The slender thread of plot, if such it can be termed, deals with the romance of the innkeeper's son and the orphan girl, foster daughter of the rival inn keeper, and virtually a serving wench. Actually, the village and its people provide their own opera-bouffe, complete with gay and colorful stage sets,- a Tyrolean background, a village square, two inns, the one a simple guest house, the other, pretentious and playing up to hordes of skiiers: and the villagers, some playing major parts on his stage set, others serving as chorus. One can virtually see the whole acted out on the stage. The period encompasses the Second World War, with the Anschluss, the occupation, the transformation of the inns into hostels for wounded officers and heroes, of the Convent into an army hospital, of the people into naive Nazis and silent objectors. The innkeeper, Arbogast Tannegg, escapes to his mountain retreat to avoid committing himself. Then retreat and defeat -- Tannegg achieves the rescue of his son -- the French come and there are new armies of occupation; there are women of mystery and rich industrialists, yes, even the Jewish banker who has managed to buy his security with money and lies. There's humor-and satire- and one is never quite sure on which side Bemelmans takes his stand. But it is a wholly Bemelmans' production, from endpapers to endpapers.