Firebelle Lillie's passage through the Nineteenth Century is commemorated in San Francisco by a tower on Telegraph Hill. From childhood she was an incurable chaser of fire-engines and by her twenties she was not only nationally famous as the belle of San Francisco but was also known on the Continent as an intimate of Napoleon III. Intimate friend, that is. Lillie, often engaged to four men at once, was desolate and sick of an old passion for stockbroker Howard Coit, a cool, cruel heartbreaker. Eventually, she broke down Howard's defenses and they married secretly. When her parents discovered this, they disowned her. Lillie and Howard's marriage began brilliantly but deteriorated after a few years, perhaps because they never bothered to own a home but lived at swank hotels. Howard died in his forties, Lillie cavorted disgracefully into her eighties. The first half of her biography is quite charming, but her later tribulations are drenched in suds.