What unmixed pleasures: the short story seems to favor Elizabeth Jane Howard who in her novels boxes herself in along with her characters in the chafed domestic quarters she creates for them. Not that there are any really happy families here--just variations in long division sometimes stretching across three generations as in ""The Devoted"" (an alcoholic father's death on Christmas day causes all kinds of subtle realignments), or ""Child's Play"" (a sulky new bride, accustomed to being Daddy's girl, refuses to be alienated by the situation her mother rubs her nose in). There's the pretty rustle of a ""Summer Picnic"" and a hostile outing in ""Pont du Gard""--here the wife of many flagrant betrayals smiles with the private satisfaction of her own option. And three others which are full of menace and reprisal: ""Mr. Wrong"" in which an ungainly woman, far from realizing that someday hope of Mr. Right, watches her phantom terror materialize; the starved and stunted child star who finally gets ""The Whip Hand"" over her noisome mother: and the ineffably haunted terrain ""Three Miles Up."" Nine in all, there's nothing tentative about these short stories which have strong, dramatic narrative as well as personal values. Very available, accomplished entertainment for the audience which once read Daphne du Maurier and now reads Elizabeth Taylor to whom this collection is dedicated.