The author of Opening Nights (1985), Raw Silk (1977--a National Book Award runner-up), etc., evokes a Baltimore society woman's coming of age in early-1900's Arizona in this vividly realized epic tale--utterly captivating, and among the author's best work. The pampered wife of a Baltimore banking executive and daughter of a wealthy Catholic businessman, young Mrs. Eleanor Poindexter was born and bred to entertain, manage an extensive household, and surround herself with beautiful things. Decidedly content with her role--despite the fact that she doesn't love her husband, Laurel (who, in any case, dotes on her)--Eleanor panics when Laurel contracts tuberculosis and must transfer posthaste to a bank in hot, healing, primitive Arizona. Initially, Eleanor finds herself even more outrageously bored by tiny, provincial Bowie than she had feared, but as her life begins to intertwine with the lives of such eccentric dreamers as an impoverished marble-quarry owner; a spinster schoolteacher who refuses to marry the town's richest man; a Mexican maid determined to live a lady's life in California; a derelict miner who runs off to serve Pancho Villa; and the Chinese son of a former railway worker who wanders the desert in search of himself--Eleanor's own character is soon stripped, twisted, and redefined by the unforgiving desert. With her sharp- eyed, pitiless evocations of Eleanor's battles with alcoholism, adultery, and self-pity, Burroway creates a virtual Emma Bovary of the West--a memorable character who finally triumphs in an unsympathetic world. Great, wide-screen entertainment in the McMurtry tradition.