THIS is a curious book. The opening and the final chapters are somewhat in the fashion of, but worse than, Gone with the Wind. Certainly few novels get off to a less convincing start. After the battle, murder, and sudden death of the first four post-Civil War chapters, one is tempted to read on to see just how bad the book can be — it has all the characters and fixings of such melodrama as Nellie, the Beautiful Cloak Model — and then, strangely enough, it becomes readable and interesting. Miss Chevalier is not yet a novelist in the professional, craftsmanlike sense, but when she writes about the tobacco war in Kentucky, when she realizes her characters, she does a thoroughly good job. Her next book should be interesting, as she shows every indication of becoming a significant author, unhurried and sincere. R. E. D.