Olivia Davis' short stories -- this is her first collection -- are on the level of her earlier two novels -- discreet rather than subtle, inductive, and concerned with people from the very young to the old with all those distances in between. . . areas of loss, unimportance, attenuated hopes. Whether it's the several defections and dislocations in the life of a child on an ocean crossing, or the closed-mindedness of an old woman in a home, a disagreeable old woman whose head is stuffed ""like one of those old-fashioned steamer trunks."" In ""Constance"" and ""Briholme in Winter"" there are attempts to recover or retain the past; a young man, blind, shows second sightedness re the tragedy which will overtake ""The Other Child"" by the seashore as his mother carries on her uncharitable commentary on the life he cannot see going on around them; in a number of these latent resentments are only too easily exposed, often vindictively. All of them attract your curiosity and reward your interest -- these are for the most part people you know or might have known -- and Olivia Davis is an accomplished writer.