Though longer than most and somehow more sober in tone, Britisher Banks' first-person telling smacks right off of those dithery American confidences--which, while inviting instant identification, can also put off readers who don't want to be identified with the heroine's gushing descriptions and trivial concerns. (This one's too-pale eyelashes have been ""driving me mad"" for years.) But the dominating conflict is decidedly British--with Kate, her new working-class boyfriend Mark, her parents, and his, all variously disturbed about the class difference between them. This leads to tension, rages, breakups, and confrontations; and then the relationship is further complicated by a kiss from long-adored, older Leo next door, now falsely accused of paternity by a French au pair and saved from her clutches by Kate's shrewd guess and persuasive arithmetic. Though immensely grateful, Leo's Jewish parents wouldn't want his gratitude to a goy to go too far--but Kate's dilemma (can I love them both?) is abruptly, if not permanently, resolved by Mark's near-fatal motorbike accident. The ensuing weeks of hospital visits make Leo ""just a friend"" again and Kate's and Mark's families ""more like one big family than two."" It's hardly the outcome things seemed headed toward before the author so impatiently took over. But the detailed soap-opera realism of Kate's romance will have a strong appeal--and, incidentally, the depiction of the close relationship between Kate and her mother is a more rounded one than we usually see over here.