R. Prawer Jhabvala has earned a reputation as the social chronicler-satirist of Indian middle class mores and foibles to the point of being compared with Jane . Here, in eleven short stories, she summons up a bustling world of well-to-do ives, petty officials, small businessmen; of the indolent and idle and aged relatives who crowd in upon the households; of the saintly and the selfish, the native and the . In the title story, she lets us glimpse her purpose in the teasing phrase ""Like birds, like fishes, so man also""...which characterizes the frustrated search for happiness, the painful, blind grappling with life in which her characters engage. There is the younger son who becomes the bulwark of his family, a family as disordered as one he tried to escape; the shopkeeper who hopes, in the coming of his sixth child, for a first son... and is disappointed; the ambitious wife of a professor who is for time the confidante of the Head's wife and is discomfited by the young woman's llicit passion; the grandmother who has learned the way to peace in the midst of a busy household; a young widow who at last learns her proper place in the way of things and leaves her money to grasping relatives; a young man drawn in by another man's young and idle wife only to be disappointed by her at the last...The stories, ending almost in a diminuendo rather than a flourish, form an impressive unity and are, as it were, movements of which the whole is the greater part. No eye is keener, no ear more closely attuned to this universe, recreated in all its color, crowdedness, passions, with a love compounded by irony.