Young student Katherine, protégé of bisexual architect/aesthete John Millet (he likes her "androgynous look"), finds her life changing when John introduces her to the large ménage of her philosophy prof, Jacob Goldman—a leftist who joins in jovial fanny-slapping with wife Jane (a pianist/gardener/earth-mother in droopy tweeds). In fact, once exposed to this atmosphere of jovial sex, Katherine soon falls for eldest Goldman son Roger, a beautiful young man who teaches in Africa and plays the violin. But, after sex, Roger promptly dumps poor Katherine, citing her "brazen" pride in her "unfortunate, vulgar and semi-educated" background. (Her mum, true enough, is hopelessly lower-bourgeois.) So, crushed, Katherine carries her torch to Italy, teaches English, side-steps eccentrics, and has a long love affair with macho Michele—"a backward-looking romantic with right-wing views and left-wing friends." And only after bearing a child, losing it, and suffering for years will Katherine return home, to the Goldmans—to find Roger married but his brother Jonathan (kind, funny, irreverent) available. Despite a few serious intimations here and there: an essentially comfy, conventional muddling-through-to-love story with lots of smart-alec chatter, some of it bright, some tiresomely arch.