What do you want with a wretched, overburdened English parson with a cartload of relations and a hopeless end to it all?""- And can there be anything but a hopeless end to the serious attachment which exists between a vicar, married and in his mid-forties, and another woman, - this is the question resolved somewhat surprisingly in Pamela Hansford Johnson's new novel. Maurice Fisher who is no longer in love with his wife, Libby (she ""pushes"" her beauty at him but deprives him of its benefits- she is frigid), has until now subordinated his desires to her denials, and has made a home for her along with her sister, Kate, and Kate's two sons. Actually Kate is the homemaker and holds their ""material life"" together. His attraction to Alice Imber is at all times kept within conventional, platonic bounds-which contrasts here with the recklessly physical affair with an alcoholic in which Kate indulges and for which she is ready to make every sacrifice. It is her decision to leave, rather than the pressure which is brought to bear by Libby and by the bishop, which forces him to give up Alice; and it is the fact that his renunciation is necessitated by the most commonplace considerations that occasions the final irony in what is essentially an ordinary situation, handled, as might be expected, with chilling insight. Miss Johnson is one of the most accomplished of the English women writers- and if she writes rather passionlessly about passion, she is always to be admired in the uncomfortable observations she brings to bear on people and places- in this case a churchly circle in London. Her earlier books should define the market.