An amusing, faintly acidulous first novel, about a 51-year-old housewife in a London neighborhood, whose last child has left home: now she confronts the fact that not only does she not love her husband, but doesn't even like him very much. There are headlong stumbles and fumbles before the happily devious solution to one of life's dreary predicaments. With husband Peter ""noisily fighting off indigestion beside her,"" Alice Hatton drives them home front a boring dinner with boring ""friends,"" and contemplates her plight. With children gone and Peter merely an irritant, Alice has ""lost all sense of the part she was supposed to be playing in life. She was in limbo and she was on her own."" Gaffes follow. Alice's first fling is with a delightful man who assumes innocent Alice (overly made-up and unwittingly in a pickup joint) is soliciting. The troth is a shocker (but the sex is memorable). Alice's one extended affair is with Edward the dentist, whose wife has left to live with her psychiatrist. Life is richer then by far for Alice, but there's that inevitable moment with clandestine lovers when ""one gets keener or less keen than the other."" Meanwhile, Peter has been lusting for another, but only in his heart. Oddly, the Hattons, during their respective ""affairs,"" are nicer than ever to each other. But after dentist Edward, and a reformed Peter's declaration of love--Alice is repulsed--then what? Daughter Robin's pregnancy (by some foul hound of a theater person) is a stunner, but finally seeds of possibility begin to germinate in Alice's soul--and cunning plans are made for a satisfying future. Rueful sport is made of the curdled marriage that yokes the truly thick with the truly fed-up, but also of the beady-eyed, predatory potential (as well as the flaps and flops) of the housewife self-tethered to her Empty Nest. A brisk entertainment, with steely underpinnings.