An undemonstrative account follows the wavering emotional and spiritual struggle of Francis Farrell, a middle aged materialist and sensualist, as recorded by his son-in-law Jasper, his intercessor and interpreter. Jasper, who is roughly of an age with Francis, is also a ""rank outsider"" to the Farrells' Catholic faith. He therefore encourages Francis to make the separation from his wife, Hilda, complete with the divorce which will free him to marry Jean, a serenely understanding younger woman. Hilda's death, however, only heightens Francis' indecision. He disappears for a time into a monastery in Spain, returns just long enough to prove his personal tenet that you ""cannot go to God with empty hands"". After making the supreme sacrifice, Jean, he withdraws from the world altogether.... There is little of the worldly wit of the earlier de Polnay here it is subdued to the irony, detachment and dissidence with which Jasper views the conflict and the unexpected choice. The reader too keeps his distance, and while interested is seldom involved.