Ian Canning, ill with a recurrent tropical fever, returns to England from the Far East to find that he has lost his work, his wife, his flat. Thinking of taking his life, he is deflected by a chance Army acquaintance-Alan Hurst- who invites him to stay with his family. The household he joins is both thoroughly disorganized and disoriented, scarred by personal tragedies in the past. Alan's mother drinks since the death of the son Edward whom she had loved too exclusively- and now through Ian she believes that he has been ""conjured from the dead"". Alan's wife, Stella, has left him and there is the shifting speculation over her relationship with Edward; a seedy Uncle, and his footloose daughter, share with Ian the varied versions of the private family history. And finally Stella returns, pregnant, but with the birth of the ""male child"" the affirmation- toward life- is made and the dissatisfaction and despair will clear.... Mr. Scott, a young writer (two earlier novels) of an ability which matches his assurance, has written a curious story of intense relationships. If he promises more than he performs, implies more than he ultimately resolves, he still will attract and hold the attention of the more discerning reader.