A first novel which graphs, with a clinical caution which is never far from bitterness, the fever chart of an affair when Howard Graeme, a married professor in a mid-western college, takes time out from a rather dull marriage to fall in love with a student, Frances. In the alternating narratives supplied by Howard, Helen-his wife- a rather simple woman of average concerns, and their unmanageable son, Gordon, Howard is seen in a shifting perspective, from the malicious disrespect of his son, to the surprised indignation of his wife, and to his own torment when Frances, perverse and erratic, loves him- and leaves him. From the faculty women to his own wife- the scandal snowballs and Helen unnerves him with a strategy of silence. Howard is ready to break away with Frances- until she returns him to the life and the wife he no longer wants.... There's more than a little caustic commentary here, on family relationships in which a professor of behaviourietic psychology does not practise what he teaches; on faculty functions and the tight world of social protocol; and on the disenchantment of a passionate involvement which has no validity beyond desire.