There's a Jamesian imprint to this novel of an Anglo -Australian family of Victorian substance, in its leisurely poise, in its particularization of the social niceties and restraints of this era, and in its portrait of a lady restless at home and susceptible to the refinements of an expatriate in Italy. It is Guy Langton who is pricked by his cousin Julian to write the story of his grandmother- through her diaries- and through remembered conversations with an uncle whose sentimental attachments are not above malice. For Alice, who was pretty and wealthy and the choice of Austin Langton, is also the victim of his cousin Hetty whose rapacious vitality and grim possession Austin could not withstand. The knowledge that Hetty (""who should have been a man but could never have been a gentleman) has borne five sons to Austin (while married to another man) is the first disillusion of many; the interlude in Italy and the sentimental encounter with an Italianate expatriate is unfulfilled beyond the bounds of a graceful friendship; her daughter, Diana, the one of five children for whom she entertains the highest social hopes and deepest affections, makes a nondescript marriage; her favorite grandson is killed-- these are the groundswells in a social and domestic landscape which is intelligently observed, tastefully rendered. For a discriminating audience.