The first book from Rose Macaulay since Fabled Shore will prove a baffler to most readers. One finishes it uncertain whether it is meant to be humorous or tragic, philosophical or iconoclastic, or whether it is just a more or less aimless meandering adventure of the spirit against the background of a major part of Asia Minor. The characters suggest almost a charade:- there's Laurie, who tells the story, a vague young woman, acting as companion-secretary to her erratic aunt Dot, and finding certain satisfaction with a rather shadowy love affair on the side; there's aunt Dot, who goes -- equipped with invincible assurance that everything she wants can be had, and using her camel as transportation; there's an elderly eccentric Anglo-Catholic priest bent on converting the Turks and various Muslims met en route. Aunt Rose struck me as a very British ""Lady from Philadelphia"", completely convinced of the rightness of her way of life. When the Muslims seemed intractable she and her priest slipped across the border into Russia -- told them a pack of incredible stories- and eventually got out again. There are entertaining bits here and there, but for the most part its the kind of humor that palls- seems forced and self-consciously learned; and when the more serious passages are injected they seem out of key until the unexpected tragedy at the end gives them meaning. This won't be an easy book to place with an American audience.