In spite of dialogue dropped from a suburban bus route (""Oh, I just can't stand it! Tell me more!"") and an unconvincing reading of upper-caste Italian/American culture, Freeman, through an overkill of raw, catchall detail and a sustained air of domestic thunder, lures you into tagging along after the volcanic person of Catherine Rossi--a grandmother and spouse-consumer who blasts her husband's California political career by a very public ""abandonment."" (""Gonna do what that brilliant Angelina Alioto did."") While padding about in her women's health-farm retreat, Catherine's life flashes before the reader's glassy eye: the Southern belle (an Italian cheated out of the WASP deb circuit) wed to handsome Harvardgrad lawyer Dominic; the birth of, and frenzied devotion to, seven children; and the sour beginnings of estrangement from a husband who seems to prefer long work hours to a loving home where ""the gold damask silk paper ran rampant on the walls."" But then, Mama had warned: ""Oscar Wilde said that to a woman love is all, but to a man a thing apart."" And Dominic, as Wilde said, is ""able to resist everything but temptation,"" and takes an empathic, undemanding mistress. Catherine slows that down with fisticuffs in a public place, and politics becomes Dora's only mistress until Catherine, leaving the health farm, holds her liberation news conference. Now and then amongst the acres of rambling ground cover, this hearthside joy-and-angst puts up a few telling shoots about aggressive, primitive women caught in traditional roles--dangerously unfulfilled and pathetically in need of round-the-clock loving. By the author of A World Full of Strangers (1975), a fair commercial bet.