Beattie, author of the acclaimed Chilly Scenes of Winter, once again pierces the peccadillos of our dissatisfied modern culture. Her landscape here is the wilderness of our modern "angst," with its postures, self-help rationalizations, and fickle lunges toward fast-food happiness and "success." Beattie's wacky pastiche centers around Country Daze, an ultrachic Yuppie magazine published from a small Vermont town. Ex-New Yorker Hildon is the editor/entrepreneur who has turned the contributions of a family of eccentrics into a surprising success story. Most prominent among these is Lucy Spenser, his insecure, lover/best friend for the past fifteen years, who now writes a bizarre Miss Lonelyhearts column and who mourns her recently ended, longtime romance by having an occasional sniff of cocaine and stolen afternoons in bed with her boss. Hildon has always loved Lucy and happily neglected his wife; but when his wife asks for a divorce, he finds his dream of marrying Lucy has lost its allure. Their peacefully maintained confusion ends, however, with the summer visit of Lucy's niece Nicole, a 14-year-old soap-opera star who is sent east for a dose of "real" and who tries to make sense of an idiotic world through her inane Hollywood fan-magazine metality. When Nicole's mother is killed, the girl becomes a permanent fixture for her confused aunt Lucy, who oddly warms to the idea of being Nicole's only real security. Instead of "Love always," the empty promise in her ex-lover's Hildon's letters, Lucy realizes that "Love sometimes" will have to do. Beattie's bland, farcical style often reduces characters to types we can laugh at, minimizing the depth of storyline and leaving the reader delightfully amused, but in an objective, dispassionate way. But past fans of her clear insight into our society's absurd rituals will welcome her latest offering, an engaging romp through the perils of modern life and mores.