Mary McCarthy once wrote in a critical essay-- ""the distinctive mark of the novel is its concern with the actual world... of the verifiable."" It is the distinctive (if otherwise undistinguished) mark of this view of Mary McCarthy to indicate the verifiable facts of her life from her books and vice versa. Although Professor Grumbach (College of St. Rose, Albany) acknowledges that Mary McCarthy gave her a certain amount of time and material, the book here seems to be a direct synthesis of what is pretty generally known. Even if every one of her novels is a roman a clef, her life has been something of an open book: namely that husband #1 Harold Johnsrud is the Harold of The Group and the rather inadequate, recessive male who figures in many of her short stories; that the next seven years of marriage to Edmund Wilson, the ""minotaur,"" ended-- with the exposure in A Charmed Life; that she is Meg Sargent, Martha Sinnott, and others since always she was ""transposing and composing from many real sources"" which Professor Grumbach identifies. She also uses a lot of the commentary Mary McCarthy has aroused, occasionally voices minor criticism of her own. But on the whole this is an admiring view of the girl who left Vassar College with a Phi Beta Kappa key, an ""instant engaging smile,"" and an armature of intellectual skills and incorruptible values.