Maurice Fisher is a London parish priest in an unfashionable quarter of Kensington. He has a wife whose frigid vanity, shirking of any household or parish duties, and despairing egotism is shrouded-like her beauty-in such pathetic and frightful self-deception that to love her at all becomes one of her husband's greatest private struggles. Into this desert of duty and self-control, where his external life is a dogged shambles, his inner life dissolving through lack of joy, arrives somebody who awakens him to all-or a great deal-that he has been missing.

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