An artistic evocation of youth, friendship and their tragic dissolution. From a particularly sensitive characterization of the four friends- Dirk and Charlie Warren, Sibyl Gardner and the narrator, Barney Douglas- in their inseparable childhood between the two wars, the pattern of their early friendship remains constant but the perspective shifts with the crystalization of maturity. Charlie, the self-effacing and devoted younger brother, Barney and Sibyl decent British youngsters, they are all capable of accepting an unspectacular adult life in their families' pattern as butcher, housewife and draper; only Dirk, the leader, the hero of their childhood, fails to adjust, demanding the excitement and egocentric position of a permanent youth through fascism, adultery and intrigue. The inevitable results- Charlie's sacrificial death, Sybil's broken heart and Barney's total disillusionment- are set in a background of nicely detailed life in a small British port town. Finely drawn with a clean flavorful style that sets this well above the average run.