Jane Alison, . . Harcourt, $23 (238pp) ISBN 978-0-15-101201-5

Generations of an Australian family are linked across time and space by their relationships to a changing world and a common search for a true home in a tender, lyrical novel that explores the consequences of so-called "progress." Nine-year-old Alice is brought to Ecuador by her mother and U.S. diplomat stepfather. Alison (The Marriage of the Sea ) richly, precisely describes how the beautiful landscape entrances Alice, even as the sterile, rootless diplomatic life keeps the heart of her host country du jour at bay. The political unrest of 1970s Ecuador and hostility toward the oil-hungry U.S. further alienate Alice as she struggles to determine where she belongs. The novel's next section tells how, some 40 years earlier, Alice's grandmother Violet leaves the comforts of Adelaide for a life with her new husband in the Australian bush. Pregnant with Alice's mother, Violet struggles to hack tree stumps from the ground as she ponders her own roots: those who came before her to Australia, and the elusive nature of home for those born with wanderlust. The story of Violet's great-great-grandfather George is one of a people ravaging a land in the name of "Civilization, [and] the Empire's advance upon the globe." More impressionistic than narrative, Alison's third novel is a lush evocation of the way people love and alter (and are altered by) the environments they inhabit. Agent, Geri Thoma . (May)