Hood's finely tuned prose raises her fourth novel (Three-Legged Horse, 1989, etc.) a notch above clichÇ as she recounts the lives and loves of a trio of youngish, single women in N.Y.C. Lucy, an international tour guide and would-be illustrator, is in love with Jasper, a bartender and would-be dancer. But lately something is off in their relationship. Lucy can't say exactly what's wrong, but she's unhappy--it's a case of would-be yuppie angst. Meanwhile, Julia, Lucy's best friend, spends her time trying to be anybody but herself. She housesits, surrounded by other people's furniture, and she has one-night stands with men, telling them outrageous lies about her background. Finally, there's Katherine, who wakes up on her wedding day and decides she cannot marry future doctor Andy. She flees to New York and moves in with Lucy, her old college roommate. As the Big Apple spins, Lucy breaks up with Jasper, goes on to find big success as an illustrator and eventually, tentatively, reconciles with Jasper. Katherine gets a teaching job, explores other relationships and experiences great sex, but ultimately settles for safe Andy again. Of the three women, it is only Julia who evolves in a satisfying way, learning to come to terms with her true life, and, by the end, we're left wishing that the novel had focused more on her and less on yuppie Lucy and preppy Katherine. Hood's sharp eye for comic detail, along with her fine writing style, keeps the novel moving, but somehow it outruns its own flagging storyline. A beautifully polished Big Apple story--just a little too mushy at the core.