After the dirt to dust scattering of the ashes of a father, the impact of his death is seen with greater severity than was expected by his three children, middle-aged all. Harold, rich, upright and conservative, stops working, starts washing his hands, and begins to molest young girls on the underground (unknowingly, from behind, one of his nieces). Nicholas, the youngest, who has been a waster with an ""enviably active though messy"" sex life begins to straighten out--with Joyce who has been walking out on him with regularity. And Caroline, always in between both in years and pacific intentions, tries to regularize her own household which includes two confused daughters and a psychiatrist husband who has been derelict toward them, toward her, and finally toward a patient. . . . Mr. Ramsbotham contends here ""with what hope of success can we exert our wills to alter the programme laid down for us in childhood"" and certainly he is always revisiting the forbidden garden with a good many Id-iomatic catchphrases and concepts. To a degree it delays the progress of his novel much as it impedes his characters in their relationships of reciprocal evasion and failure. But he's a very capable writer and there are moments of nervy comedy along with the sorrier revelations, all on the sophisticated side.