A disjointed, talky, melodramatic novel about those who went to war in Vietnam and those who stayed home, by the author of one previous novel, Veterans Park (1987), and a nonfiction portrait, A Soldier's Disgrace (1987). Casey, the daughter of a prematurely old mother and a child-molester father, and Jack, her childhood friend and later her roommate during their college years in Boston, are two who stay home and wobble from cause to cause, endlessly discussing the meaning of life in coffeehouses and on shabby apartment sofas; Ross, a flighty ex-orphan who rescues them from the dreariness of their own meditations, goes to the war--after treating Jack and Casey to a blissful summer in Hancock Point, Maine, where all three believe they've found the meaning of life (an elevated togetherness) and where Casey gets pregnant. Soon Ross is thought to have died in a mission over Vietnam; Casey has an abortion, suffers through a few (summarized) years of torment, and marries an older wheeler--dealer with a ready-made family she can join. Jack becomes an Episcopal priest and keeps talking. Then Ross, not dead but really a POW, returns to Boston and looks up Jack, revealing that he intended to get Casey pregnant, believing, in his naivetÃ‰, that a baby would cause her to wait for him to return from war. Well, surprise! In a distorted way, the aborted baby has clone that; and when Casey meets Ross again in a sentiment-drenched scene on Christmas Eve in a children's hospital in Boston, the confusions of a lifetime begin to clear--and soon she is pregnant again, with Ross's baby. A mild headache brought on by overfeeding on reheated history.