Whereas an earlier novel Faithful are the Wounds probed the question of academic freedom at a politically sensitive time (1955), this new novel, within a more sheltered (women's) college setting, is concerned with involvement, and questions many areas within the walls of academe. Is teaching a creative impulse, a dedicated vocation, or a refuge from the world for those who may have been emotionally It is largely as a reireal, from an unhappy love affair, that Lucy Winter accepts a post at Appleton, in New England, and she hopes to keep her relationships with her students impersonal. She cannot escape commitment, however, when she is the one to discover that Scamn, the special prodigy and prodigy of Carryl Cope, Applicaton's most brilliant, dominant figure on the faculty, has been guilty of plagiarism. And when she confronts Jane with the facts, she realizes that Jane, driven too hard by a demanding teacher, is paying the ""price of excellence"" and is emotionally unstrung. In the many reactions to the affair, those of Carryl Cope and her intimate friend (the college's wealthiest potential ), those of other members of the faculty, the students, many touchy points are exposed, emotional values are appraised, and intellectual criteria downgraded. It is a sympathetic story, graced with Miss Sarton's finedrawn insights.