From the small change of human experience the author has extracted great feeling and reality, and yet it is difficult to indicate anything new, anything markedly dramatic. By its very lack of show it is doubly effective. Here as relentless as it is muted is a story of ""lives of quiet desperation"" -- three girls who find that the years bring no change, only the deadening of whatever hopes they once held. The story opens in 1920 and carries down to the present, as it traces the story of three girls and the daughter of one -- fairly typical girls of a typical New York middle class background. Held together by the warmth and vitality of the mother, the ""bough breaks"" with her death, forcing each to stand alone. Julia faces marriage (a marriage precipitated by pregnancy though by another man) to a man she ridicules and loathes; Grace, the spinster, stifles her loneliness by running a gift shop; Abby, the youngest, has married for love, but finds that love is worn down by years of scraping to meet the rent. ""Jam tomorrow, jam yesterday, but never jam today"" -- this is the theme. It's bleak, and quite disenchanted; I don't know when I've read quite as uncomfortable a book, but it is very real as these three go down the years with a forlorn acceptance of lives they had expected would be otherwise. A woman's book -- and an extraordinarily good one --but perhaps too unsettling and stripped of glamor for wide sales. Nonetheless, in these unpredictable days, there's an oddly masochistic streak which results in popularity for the very books one might expect would be taboo. This is worth attention. Don't miss it.