The scenery and horses are handsome, and the topography of social clustering in Virginia hunt country is credible, but the novel throws a shoe when it comes to character--most are as bland as buttercups, and the gossip's therefore not too compelling. Susan and Gary, with their two children, move from Ohio to Virginia. While Susan, honeyed by initial acceptance, pays out cash and energy to wedge permanently into the in-group, Gary becomes increasingly uneasy. Alongside are other muted crises: a college-bound girl becomes pregnant by a slightly lower caste horseman; a young English governess, of exemplary seat, horses about with the husband of a doomed alcoholic. The author knows her people en masse--the hunt, parties, politics (or lack of it), and family and caste bonding. It's a shame that the riders of the blooded mounts are themselves rather bloodless.