Andrea Newman writes feminine novels which scratch up some of the surfaces which say Penelope Mortimer or Margaret Drabble reflect with greater depth. Namely those dealing with the modern young woman in that bind between her biological demands and her other capacities. Take Alexa, with the shining example of her mother before her who had combined the best of all possible worlds--a husband, several lovers and a career. Alexa, while not married, is also quite content with writing novels and having affairs. While on the other hand there's her old friend Christine, trapped with a husband, two youngsters, in a deadspot in rural Essex. A desperate letter from Christine brings Alexa down there and while she minds the children, she tries to overlook her attraction for Christine's husband Paul which is reciprocated. And Paul is certainly not man enough to handle it. . . . Actually less chafingly confined than her last novel, The Cage, this is a spiky, sophisticated catechism of a woman's place in what proves out to be a woman's world and it is attractive to read.