First-novelist Smith, a divertingly chatty run-on stylist, finds a few new comic wrinkles as she episodically fills out one of the most familiar women's-fiction scenarios: the longtime housewife's struggle for competence and confidence as she breaks out of wedlock. Smith's housewife-narrator is Mrs. Harry Brown--who, after 17 years as wife of cop Harry, simply finds him boring and unattractive and, thanks to an affair (plus a VD scare that turns out to be psychosomatic), she decides to give him the heave-ho. Harry, however, is a highly reluctant divorce-ce: now thrown out, he showers his wife with floral arrangements (from a funeral home, unfortunately) and bugs the phone (which merely reveals the sleazy doings of their two teenage kids). But Mrs. B. holds firm--with appallingly erratic support from her ""best friend"" Marilyn, a grandly dreadful character who dispenses bad advice with Ã‰lan, concocts a patently phony rÃ‰sumÃ‰ for Mrs. B.'s job-hunting, and remains unwaveringly selfish through thick and thin. Among the newly single heroine's crises: hosting a thoroughly unpleasant coupon-trading party (the cat, high on her son's marijuana, throws up); trying to solder a water-pipe with Harry's tools; being termed a ""wogger"" by her fellow early-morning joggers; and getting in hot water--contempt of court--while idiotically helping Marilyn to contest a traffic violation (supposedly a frame-up by Harry's fellow cops). No great hilarity and no novelistic shape (Mrs. B. merely ends up selling the house and moving to an apartment)--but Smith is an unpretentiously jaunty storyteller with enough offbeat specifics to give the rebirth-at-37 formula a fair measure of freshness.