The ripples, near and far, resulting from an American woman's suicide in Sicily reflect the responses of all involved. For Mrs. West's sudden death carries its meaning to the other local expatriates, to her daughter in New York, her son in California, her brother in his dessicated professorship, her servants, and eventually, when the news reaches him, to her long divorced husband. And each, caught in the drama of the moment, tries to find the reason for her action, for the flaw in her, and in their own lives, and each, in their search, pinpoints some aspect of her life. The Lady Sylvia and her cynical nephew, the Countess Pahlmann with her recent conversion to Catholicism and her envious son and daughter-in-law, the disruption of the village with the false rumors, the theft of Mrs. West's jewels, the intervention of the U.S. Consulate -- all add up to a portrait of futility, insecurity and immaturity. A gadfly negation not without some acerb commentary.