The evocation of a place -- a ""monstrous"" house (with a demesne ""beset and beleaguered"" whose tricks of beauty and magic enshroud its mournful malevolence) sets the story of a 19 year old whose lost memory leads him into the right gestures when he arrives at Drumnair, in Ireland, and the Friary where the widow, Mrs. Courtney, will have none of him, and where her father-in-law is ready to accept him. Familiar are the people and the locations, with an intuitive knowledge of things past -- but with no recollection of definitive events, and the boy finds an ally in Mrs. Courtney's adopted daughter, Antonia. He finds, too, tenuous guides to his own identity -- and that of someone else's. When the curtain lifts, the blankness gives way to his life with two sets of parents -- and their determination never to exert pressure on his decisions -- a situation from which he has escaped into a freedom of doing things his own way. That his predicament reopens -- and heals -- old wounds between Mrs. Courtney and his father, enlightens a religious issue, and makes certain his remaining at the Friary -- with, eventually, Antonia, all winds up a romanticizing of countryside and characters in smooth rolling narration. Adept, attractive -- and, at points, annoying.