Laura Diamond, daughter of a mid-19th-century London clerk, is indeed so fair of face that it's somewhat of a curse: boys tease her: girls hate her; kind sister Ellie loses her first beau because of Laura's beauty. But 30-ish artist Maurice is also awash in admiration, and when Laura leaves school to sell hats, Maurice is in pursuit--until the romance is sabotaged by his beautiful, widowed, possessive mother. Laura, incorrectly believing that Maurice has left her, marries a handsome, horrid boob named Fred; then rich merchant James Broadbent offers her a holiday at the seashore. And so begins Laura's golden-cage career--which leads to new ""protector"" Hon. Deryck Hervey, a season in Paris (to learn deportment, French, and riding), celebrity as ""La Diamante."" But Deryck will not allow Laura to speak of her pathetic family or help them; he also has the gall to ""offer"" Laura to the Prince of Wales for a night of royal diversion. And so Laura is on her own again--until she accompanies kind, mourning widower Otto von Schlager to Austria, where a certain Dr. Freud helps Otto to have a non-platonic relationship with Laura. Unfortunately, however, their first pre-nuptial flight (yes, he's asked her to marry him) leads to a fatal stroke. Dear, dear, Back, then, to the old byways again--dangerous for a single beauty (she's even pursued by a lesbian). Meanwhile, of course, Maurice and Laura have been just-missing around Europe. And after Laura returns to England, she gets a reverse-beauty-treatment from smallpox . . . till, at last, at last, while gyrating in a cheap London cabaret, Laura sees. . . . A fat, familiar tale from a reliable circulator.