Flawless weeping meringue by a prima donna of paperback romances--with deathless love, melodious passion, birthings, and tragic violence in Rome, New York, and Athens. Beautiful Serena, surviving Princess of a noble Roman family, saw her parents murdered by Mussolini's hoods (thanks to an evil uncle), was taken away to an American convent school during the war, and in 1945 returns to Italy--to find all kin gone, her magnificent palazzo sold and rented to the US military. So Serena works as a maid in her former home, where she meets Major Brad Fullerton, scion of a wealthy N.Y. family. They love, mightily, and Brad throws over nasty Pattie, his social register fiancÃ‰e, who's horrid to Serena. But Pattie is a mere modicum of spite compared to Brad's mother Margaret--who is so regally rotten to Serena in N.Y. that the two leave for San Francisco. (The only welcoming Fullerton is Brad's nice younger brother Teddy, a med student who will secretly worship Serena for years.) Serena then gives home-delivery birth to Vanessa, and it's a dreamy time--until Brad is killed in Korea. Devastated, Serena supports herself and baby for four years (mean Margaret has seen to it that Serena is nearly penniless) by becoming the modeling toast of N.Y. But she also fails into marriage with photographer Vasili Arbus, a secret addict who begins to pop pills. And when Serena flees with Vanessa and new baby Charlotte, Arbus catches up and kills her in a mad delirium. So Uncle Teddy The Good wins custody of Vanessa, who, 13 years later, is a lovely photographer. But she remembers little before life with adored Teddy . . . until Teddy's new psychiatrist wife Linda helps her unlock the past: she sets out to find half-sister Charlotte, who's been adopted by virile widower Andreas, Axbus' upstanding brother. And so, in Greece, Vanessa and Andreas, dying of cancer, have an affair--which offers Vanessa the final release (she's been afraid of men). With lushly appointed mansions, billboard dialogue, and bosom-heaving sentiment: matchless mush.