This is an unusually sensitive and literate story about a 13-year-old boy and the tangled family which owns the English country estate where his beautiful sister is cook. The household at Woodhall is dominated by the haughty Madame Ayre who despises any physical imperfections and keeps her proud, spirited grand-daughter Alix completely sheltered from the rest of the world. She is disdainful of her only surviving son Theo, a hulking, ungainly person with a defective arm whose gentle personality and quiet inward strength has enabled him to surmount this rejection. The boy Matt is a thoughtful witness to the events which lead to the uniting of the Ayres, and his own observations delve into the mystic. Although strongly Catholic-oriented, this beautifully written book is an excellent choice for discriminating young readers.