In the final novella of Nick Earls's quintet The Wisdom Tree, a benign security guard, Wanda, misquotes Tolstoy: 'No family is perfect. But each family isn't perfect in its own way.' Crossing between continents, each of these intersecting novellas reveals characters who variously express love for the institution of family and opportunistically exploit it. Compromised ambition flourishes throughout. Narrators find themselves support acts to the aspirations of others. Success, with its brief euphorias, might or might not come, but compromise has its own rewards.