Freydberg (The Bride; The Lovely April) continues to celebrate the joys and sorrows of human love, breaking new ground here in her depiction of love among the aged. She proves false the French aphorism ""If the young knew, if the old could"" with this deeply felt novel about psychic growth. Set on an island off New England, the story charts a winter in the lives of three elderly couples. Freddy and Lidi Luhin have been married for 50 years, a union of opposites. Seventy-five-year-old Freddy has a gregarious nature, a concern for others, and an ability to live completely in the present. Lidi, an unpublished poet, still hungers, at 72, ""for evidence of the acceptance of others,"" a hunger largely unassuaged. The two widowed 80-year-olds, Turck (a retired surgeon) and Tillie (a woman of amazing wisdom), savor what they jokingly call their ""illicit affair,"" for they live together in rare harmony. Against the backdrop of these settled relationships, the courtship of Cabe Kingsley and Celeste Hunter unfolds. They're ""two wounded people"" in their mid-60s, who have a capacity for sexual love they were unable to express in their flawed marriages. Forty-eight years earlier, they'd had a brief romance during the summer Celeste was engaged to her future husband. Cabe (Tillie's nephew-in-law) has come to the island to convalesce from prostrate surgery and concentrate his energies on his music. Drawn to Celeste's beauty and vitality, he begins to shed his reserve while she relinquishes some of her cherished independence. After hearing him play the piano, she invites him to be soloist at a benefit concert she's organizing. The denouement graphs the process by which they overcome their doubts and decide to risk marriage again. With her compassionate eye and lyrical style, Freydberg is a loving cartographer of the human heart--at any age.