You'll have to look hard (past the participles dangled on the first two pages -- ""wafting,"" ""westering,"" ""basking"") for signs of the ""too polished"" style once attributed to Elizabeth Spencer. This is a torchy, sentimental melodrama with certainly the readability factor this implies set in New Orleans where an older dusky Creole to newer drug underworld surfaces here and there. And attracts Julia, born and bred well above it, a very decorative young woman -- ""her hair rich and dark clustering thick as grapes and hyacinths."" When first met Julia has been temporarily involved (all her lovers are temporary) with Jake Springland, a musician, now brought to trial on a murder charge -- the victim presumably being Ted Marnie, a sort of seer. Nothing comes of the case although it is surprisingly resuscitated some years later along with Marnie; in between you have insets on the other men in Julia's life, or rather existence -- a millionaire from Mississippi, an insurance man, a newspaper reporter -- none seemingly as potent as Springland who also comes back long enough to leave her with the child she wants. All of this has a certain silky attraction but there's no doubt about it. What was once considered ""sensibility"" is now almost as overbearing as all those camellias and hibiscus. Call it Southern belle lettres and you won't be far off.