This first novel will be sponsored with particular enthusiasm by the publisher who hopes that it will achieve the critical reception and general response of last year's The Martyred. It seems questionable and it may well be a matter of taste where subjective elements predominate. The scene is the south, actually East Tennessee in the '30's, a feudal, rather inbred, plantation world where Hugh Alexander comes to live at the age of ten. A gentle boy, taking after his part jewish, part French mother, he is always at odds with his father, a Southern Colonel, who tries to indurate him with a whip. The father is killed by the stallion given the boy as part of his sterner education. Next door there's Julie, his cousin, with whom there's a very young first love (and first sex) initiation. Then too, and perhaps the most authoritative part of the book, there's Julie's father, whose aura of books, bourbon and beneficence shapes not only the lives of the youngsters but the whole community, Negro and poor white, which will all fragment at his death... Chivalric in tone, half physical, half sentimental in approach, Mr. Richardson's novel is never much more than the sum of its parts-- namely scenes and characters which are established with consistency and care. But somehow the youthful passion and anguish of the young lovers don't come off as they should and barely escape euphoric bathos.