Shakespeare's ""circle in the water"" was a symbol of glory that widened into oblivion. Otis Christenson, architect with a vision, slowly discovers that the Establishment of his hometown has passed the saturation point. Otis has risen from the rankness of the Apple Street Grade School to the bountiful bouquet of the Rolling Springs Country Club with principles intact. Now he finds his compass swinging erratically between deal and idealism as he tries to ink in the financial touch to his lifetime goal, a community development program. His ambitious second wife Lucy asks Otis' boyhood friend Frank Pattelli for help. Pattelli has money, influence and a silent partner- Sachi (a hometown Mafiosa type). Sachi introduces Otis to the corruption and twisted tastes of the town leaders. (One is a ""double queer"".) Disgusted, Otis seeks solace from twenty-one-year-old society degenerate Carol Waring, his first wife look-alike who (coincidentally) has been in love with him since she was fourteen. Pattelli dies forcing Otis to keep his drawing board afloat by blackmail. A diluted Peyton Place.