The accepted theme for beginning British novelists, especially those who aspire to the role of satirist, is to reveal the blight in the ivy that covers their old Public (private) Schools. This has allowed the constant American reader, who may never have been any nearer to Eton & Co. than a small boy's high collar, to know the exact route -- you go from Normalcy until you come to Snobbery, meet Buggery and arrive at Disillusion. The vehicle for this trip is David Melrose who, on the eve of his departure for Glaze- brook School discovers his Mummy disporting herself in bed with a married man. Thus shaken, he is an eager consumer for all the orthodoxy of the school, from Christian ideals to ruggedly platitudinous principles, both on and off the playing fields. ""Hot for Certainties,"" he never plays the hypocrite and never seems to think anyone else will. With his flank always unprotected, he is ever open to the successful attacks of an older student, a dessicated housemaster, the first girls in his life and his parents. While some of the lesser characters are sharply satirized, Melrose emerges unbelievably stolid and non-combatant in the face of a total and continual persecution. Typical English first novel --second form.