Charlotte has prayed to ""the newel post"" of the title since she was a child: now she's in her middle forties, still an ""inveterate virgin,"" hating the drunken husband who left her and the retarded child he left her with, and escaping into a depression. 'This then deals with her regeneration at the hands of Stanning who lives across the way, bald, blunt, if not crude, but vital. A one-man group therapy session, he takes care of her gently, shocks her physically, and finally manages to get rid of Harry, her worthless husband, and the ""newel post"" with its mystic-sexual implications.... Written sometimes in the archaic cliche of the woman's novel (""sweet consternation of desire""), it deals with a good many sterner realities and sex in sufficiently explicit terms that one cannot dismiss it out of hand as trivia. Still the women's market is the only designation since it is not well enough written to deserve a wider one.