A poignant story of Sydney slums -- a sort of Australian Tree Grows in Brooklyn. The Darcy's a tenement family, of Irish extraction, were destined for grim poverty, but got a tremendous lot out of life in spite of it. The relationship of members of the family, one to the other, creates the web that holds them together:- Hughie, a no-good drunkard who saw things in big terms only in his cups; Grandma, who occasionally shared a wee nip with him; Mumma, who knew he adored her, and who loved him, in an odd sort of way, and who managed to hold her head high, despite the battle of the bugs, and the two girls. But chiefly it is Roie's story, the growing pains of adolescence, the tragic affair with crippled Tommy, the sad aftermath of their breakup, her hesitant visit to an abortionist and precipitate departure; and then of her abiding love for Charlie and their marriage, and a new pattern of predictable poverty set in motion. Then there are the neighbors and their stories:- Miss Sheily in one of the attic rooms, with her bastard idiot son; and Mr. Diamond, who berated the Catholic Church- and finally joined it; and the Sisters; and Lick Jimmy, fruiterer and good neighbor, and Mrs. Siciliano who unwittingly betrayed Roie's pathetic little secret. The book has a wistful charm that is difficult to analyze.