This, says Flaherty, lays bare ""the reality of seven women who found themselves alone for the first time and could find no answers in the optimistic self-help books."" A columnist for Family Weekly, Flaherty uses a novelistic format in presenting her case histories. We meet six of the women, who react variously to the suicide of the seventh. Then we learn of their lives--from childhoods through the divorces, deaths or abandonments that have brought them, in the late 1970's, to a jazzy Amarillo, Texas, apartment complex. All had been programmed to live out their lives as wives and mothers; and they have coped with varying success to life on their own. Born poor in Oklahoma and three times married, Jo has raised three children, obtained a Ph.D. and become a psychological counselor. Twice divorced (and still a Roman Catholic), Francesca is a successful TV newscaster. Once the perfect doctor's wife, Samantha is an executive secretary and introspective poet. Abandoned for a topless dancer, Margaret has parlayed training in arts and crafts into an executive job at a museum. One-time rebel Leigh has become a successful insurance adjuster after her body and life were rebuilt following a leap from a window during an LSD trip. The beautiful Elizabeth paints her nails and awaits another sugar daddy like the one who left her two million dollars--now gone in a wild spending binge. Rachel, who converted herself into a wind-up Dolly Parton to fulfil her ex-husband's sexual fantasies, has little inner core to cope with life alone: she commits suicide. With its eerie echos of Mary McCarthy's The Group and Rona Jaffe's tackier Best of Everything, this should appeal to devotees of soap opera and the sudsier miniseries and to Harold Robbins fans.