I've been reading a lot of British domestic fiction written during and about the 1930s and 40s lately and it's interesting to see how different people handle wartime relationships in Britain. I sort of liked this book, but I didn't love it. I found the characters difficult to like and the ambience unremittingly negative. All the characters, from the unhappy wife to the seething live-in cousin to the aging restauranteur see their environment as oppressive. Even the young child in the family sees everything in dreary, deathly terms; netball posts are gallows, people watching games roar savagely, and his neighborhood looks dead "like the photograph in a newspaper of a road where murder has been committed...who has not walked in the madness of oppression down such roads?" Grown-up thoughts for someone who seems about 7. On the other hand, I like books in which dysfunctional relationships are examined; what is said and, more revealing, what is left unsaid. I was compelled by the high-quality writing to keep reading about these people who can't see the bright side of anything. I could have done without the subplot about the socialist group, but I liked the story of the husband and wife, trapped in a relationship neither enjoys and lacking the skills or the desire to love one another.