Clever idea--and valid. No reason why successful women shouldn't serve as mentors for their careerist daughters; every reason (Mme. de Stael et al.) to put counsel-and-confidences in epistolary form. These letters to ""Dearest Amanda"" cover four or five years. ""Mother"" is a fictional executive with a Chicago manufacturer; she started working there--as a divorcee with a small child to support--when women-in-business were a rarity. Amanda, employed by a New York firm, starts as an executive trainee with ""a superb education"" and high ambitions. In the course of these crafty letters, ""Mother"" comments on standard business problems, the special situation of women, Amanda's particular circumstances. Amanda also takes up with Tom, they break up and get together again; Mother goes to a San Francisco board meeting and thinks well of chairman Bill Rawlings, he invites her for dinner aboard his boat off Jamaica, and at the close, she's about to marry him--with S.F. job prospects aplenty. (The one glitzy bit.) Mother/daughter issues arise too (did Amanda feel abandoned, as a tot, because her father left and her mother went to work?); and, for a homely touch, Margaret, the mother, has a gruff-angel secretary in older Peggy--who gets cancer, and dies. There's lots of ""plot,"" in short--which keeps the pages turning, diversifies the content, and makes the advice multi-dimensional. Self-worth is a recurrent stress: not doing things to gain the praise of an unappreciative boss; recognizing an indirect job offer (men, even execs, are afraid of rejection too); acting like it's natural for you to be in the outer, governing circle. Another emphasis is not over-reacting as a woman: in the office, ""it doesn't mean that the way to get things accomplished is to do battle""; in personal relations, ""why don't we want to see the defects of others?"" None of this is novel--but it is a personalized amalgam of good-sense psychology and business-management basics (Collins is managing editor of Harvard Business Review) in a sprightly, engaging format.