This pleasant four generational saga is a thatch or two removed from Delderfield's more affluent squire-and-yeomen milieu and mainly concerns toiling farmers and artisans in the decades before the close of WW I. Prime movers are a handful of interrelated, tough-minded go-getters who are, with the exception of ""Grumpa"" Tewkes (""cross as two sticks""), also capable of great tenderness and love. Tewkes may be the Napoleon of his carpenter shop, but he cannot control his granddaughter Beth nor prevent her from marrying the gentle shop goat, bumbling Jesse. Meanwhile down the road a piece, Jack, a crippled itinerant laborer, is on his way to becoming bailiff of fertile acres after reclaiming a decaying farm. It is Jack's daughter Linn who will comfort the last days of orphaned Tom, who has survived the war only to become blind and face a murder charge. Violent deaths, joyful marriages, and some grim battlefield scenes intervene, but the family events are supported throughout by the country matters the author knows so well--from pastures ""sweetening"" to cottages repaired with wattlework and hazel rod weave. God is an Englishman right enough, but this time walks behind the plough.