Paul, Ivy League historian, but with an open mind to change, comes to Los Angeles with his wife Katherine (pale, suffering from sinus, scared) to write the history of the Nutting Research and Development Corporation. While he skips off from the office to Beatnik land with Ceci, a waitress, and knows nothing, learns nothing, Katherine is transformed by Iz, a psychiatrist. He is improbably in love with Glory, his estranged wife, a kooky starlet. Sexual combinations reveal the characters and throughout the city is unfurled-- ""pads,"" ""bulldozed hills, outer-planet movie sets, incinerators, monster peaches. Keeping her novel realistic, but with a smattering of scenes that border on the fantastic, Alison Lurie shows some really fine ironic humor. She has a quiet way of letting the characters trip themselves up. No one, not even Katherine in the process of achieving self-freedom, is given sympathy without being handed, implicitly, a wry comment on the hazards of living a ""style,"" particularly in the sprawling, vociferous, no-time place of L.A. It is an incisive and very witty novel, and some readers will remember her earlier, attractive Love and Friendship (Macmillan-1962).