The evidence of love is nowhere to be seen here, nor is the evidence of Shirley Ann Grau as we remember her. With a chaste precision of style and recoil from people, the novel leads down, in steps, from E. Milton Henley whose backward view opens and closes the book. You become privy to his great wealth, his exotic wives and occasional men, and the girl he seduced one night in order to procure a son, Stephen. All of this is told in a pursed and deliberate fashion. Quite like that of son Stephen who at 60, a diligent minister now retired, wheezes with asthma and emphysema before he slips away altogether. But Stephen had married and performed the ""mechanics"" of sex with Lucy often enough to father two sons. One of them will discover through paintings the identity of that unknown grandmother. The evidence of love? Rather the ""community of blood."" Lucy, after Stephen's death, remembers with a little more animation her first marriage, before Stephen, to a man who disappeared with his gun, leaving a dead cat spattered behind him, but now she is shut of both husbands and sons to be as free as she wants. Until, at the very end, we see the original progenitor approaching the moment when he will be ""crowded off the world's surface."" What remote, self-contained people Miss Grau has chosen to observe--they're barely nicked by life. Nonetheless the novel has a distinct and fastidious curiosity, rather like scarabs in amber.