If during the past ten years, it has been evident that Angus Wilson is one of the most interesting British post-war writers, this new novel which is sharply divergent in tone, softer in spirit, and more vulnerable in its appeal should make him far more approachable to a wider audience. The satiric sting, so prominent a feature of his earlier work, has been appreciably subdued, and except in the case of occasional characters, there are few instances of the trivia of decor and mannerism which singularize and pillory with such devastating accuracy. Not that he has wholly committed his sympathies to Mrs. Eliot (perhaps the one ambiguous aspect of the book) but rather to her situation- her bereavement. Here certainly there can be no question of his concern- and it is as a portrait of a woman, a woman of great charm but only superficial capabilities, with no anchorage, desolate, bewildered and above all unrelated to the world, that his novel is meaningful and moving. When we first meet Meg Eliot, she has- at forty-three, acquired a most gracious stance:- as the wife of the high-living Bill who is protective and admiring; as a fashionable hostess in London; and as a patroness- she has her little charitable committee. Self-conscious, self-satisfied, she is also indulgently aware of her limitations. A trip to Singapore with Bill is suddenly ended- when he is shot by a native student at the airport, and there is the immediate, dreadful sense of abandonment- and guilt. Once back in England, to an additional reality- her very changed financial position- there is also the awkward constraint of those she had known superficially, part of the circumstances which no longer belong to her. Alternating between a cheap hotel, and periods as a guest of three friends who give her answers she cannot accept, she endures depressive periods- the nights of melancholy and of macabre dreams- before her breakdown, and the final recuperative period spent with her brother. There in the community of loss shared (his intimate friend has died) they achieve for the first time tranquility together- which renews Megs courage to go on alone.... All in all it is an admirable book, with its capacious range of characters and depth of discernment.