This novel, winner of Australia's prestigious Miles Franklin Award, has great ambitions. Not only does it aspire to depict a community in crisisan old whaling port now the scene of a Save the Whales protestbut also to ponder such matters as guilt and innocence, responsibility, damnation and redemption, the urge to suicide, and the visitation of the sins of the fathers upon their children. When writing about the troubled marriage of his central characters, Cleve and Queenie Cookson, or about the anti-whaling confrontations out on the open sea, Winton brings his book alive. But his grandiose strivings hurt it. Too many minor characters, often mere stereotypes, appear for the sake of thematic concerns rather than as an integral part of the narrative. And the symbolism telegraphs the story's conclusion. Promising, well-intentioned, but only passable. Charles Michaud, Turner Free Lib., Randolph, Mass.