Another collection to be added to the stories in The Soft Voice of the Serpent and Six Feet of Country (and not forgetting her two novels, The Lying Days and A World of Strangers), this lights the ""wick of identity"" for the characters on view. Twelve stories and a novella make up a volume of people, often from a Jamesian view, place them from South Africa to Cairo, and observe their acceptance of the conditional rather than the absolute. A local Madame Bovary refusing small town life; a woman unable to erase the shadow of her first husband; a mother who lets a nephew despoil her husband's authority; sophisticates ignoring a child's need for holding a belief; a girl teased by an uncle about a non-existent beau; a circus which intensifies a woman's past; a crocodile hunt pointing up two marriages.....these and others are a clean dissection of people in an area of time and place. The novella, An Image of Success, records a man's progress towards freedom which is not necessarily successful by economic standards, for Charles Butters goes from wealth to tramp-like poverty to pursue the course he wants. If there is a surfeit here -- it is of defences penetrated for an abstracting of flaws -- and some virtues -- and a depth of comprehension of man, and woman, as a vulnerable creature. Precise.