A competent novel of Southern, as well as personal, pride, of self-justification for unconquerable frustrations, presents the case of Rome Whitten whose lack of heighth is intolerable for him. He early learns compensations -- of dominating Effie, his enormous childhood neighbor -- and later puts his knowledge to work in creating a profitable business in antiques, in dealing with newly arrived Northerners, in manipulating some of the town's affairs. He knows real pleasure in doing what is best for others but his sense of accomplishment is shattered when Effie falls in love with gigantic Colles Mason, imported from the North to escort her to a dance. The loss of Effie as a devoted subject and the terrible humiliation he suffers from drunken Colles wrecks all his careful planning, and leads him to murder. A plausible probe into the lives of decayed gentility, this is for a popular audience.