This novel, first published in 1946, is one of May Sarton's earliest and, some critics think, one of her best. It takes place during the years between the world wars and explores the life of a Belgian family, the Duchesnes, and their mutual devotion which intensifies under the shadow of impending disaster. Melanie Duchesne, mother of three, is an active businesswoman, whose courage, energy, and optimism bind the family and its farm together. Paul, her husband, is a philosopher, detached, moody, continually embroiled in the spiritual conflicts of a crumbling Europe. The last years before the second war are tense ones, a time for stock-taking, for a quickening of the pace of life. But it is Melanie who encourages her family to proceed with their plans, to continue with their way of life. And it is Melanie who decides their future as the Germans launch their invasion of Belgium.