English farming-life, 1919-28, with the round of seasons, tilled fields, animal husbandry, and housewivery: a cosy sequel to Pearce's cosy Apple Tree Lean Down (1976). The new tillers of the enduring land here are the Waymans--WW I-vet and ex-lawyer Stephen, wife Gwen, sons Chris (who loves the farming life) and James (who wants to be an architect), daughters Joanna (the romantic) and small, feisty Emma. They arrive at Holland Farm in Worcestershire in 1919 to begin serious farming, but after the Waymans have coped with the difficult yet rewarding cycle of seasons and faced their first drought, Gwen dies in a horrible accident while attempting to rescue a ewe. Grieving Stephen asks cousin Dorothy, a hearty spinster from India, to help out, and she soon becomes the family's ever-reliable, adored and somewhat eccentric ""Aunt Doe."" Romance simmers slowly in these parts, and not until three years after Gwen's death does Stephen come to terms with his attraction to Betony Izzard, the schoolteacher (Apple Tree Lean Down) whose stern support of unions and the working man will cause some friction with the landowning establishment. There's also some nastiness in the village: a political meeting in the schoolhouse ends in a riot; a vindictive, dangerously careless farmhand causes mishaps and might have been responsible for Gwen's death; poor, fiercely proud Linn Mercybright and her father (met in the previous book) are evicted by a callous, spurned-lover landowner. Slow-moving as a plowhorse hock-deep in March mud, but if you're attuned to plodding down rural byways, it's surely soothing.