Meticulously researched, sturdy as good tweed, Macdonald's Victorian saga of the railroad-rich Stevensons (The World From Rough Stones, The Rich Are With You Always) trots smartly along: the parvenus are now getting fully used to the powers and tithes of status. John, the patriarch, is handed a barony, but feisty wife Nora isn't so quickly heeled by the mores of Society: she promotes a salon and, more importantly, a spirit of independence among her children. The young Stevensons occupy the front seats here: John Jr. (""Boy"") and the slightly younger Caspar are sent off to a suitably brutal English public school, where the boys' antithetical personalities quickly are distinguished. Boy is sanctimonious, honest, dutiful to a fault, even a little creepy. Caspar is imaginative, agitated, practical. How the sons exchange the places in life their father has intended for them is the bulk of concern, interspersed with much to-do about sexual mores: adolescent-anxious and adult-adulterous. And at the end, Macdonald has tipped the story straight toward the bowl of the next volume to come: will the Stevenson kids run--or ruin--peter's fortune? Thinking-man's no-think, but vaguely pleasant.