Why are people so cruel, so suspended in mid air?"" Or kind, and suspended in mid air, like Prophecy, Mrs. Prophecy Dragoncourt, an inexhaustibly rich American woman who lives in London where she keeps writing checks to a string of successive lovers. Always ""new faces."" And altogether neglects her innocent little girl Aelfrieda who carries drugs in her school bag. And where she collects antiques and paintings (Picassos) with a horror of ""fakes"" even if her live specimens seem to be nothing but. As one reads on and on (before symbiosis becomes stasis which it well might) the lines between this queen bee and her drones, between benevolence and self-indulgence, between good and bad or ""just people walking about and doing things"" converge. Actually they're not doing much--these derelicts of various political and sexual persuasions committed to little or nothing. Except perhaps Tom Gazewell, a doctor, also the narrator, and Sue, the girl with the gimpy foot, who moves in on him and his affections. True God (the large question mark) and Revolution (also Vietnam) all rumble in the background; and at the end there's a large fete for Orlando Kitson, Prophecy's latest parasite, which ends in tragicomic opera bouffe. Symonds' first novel which goes on far too long glints with unpleasantness, glistens to a degree with a kind of fascination, and has a sharpness of style (""I have a very good idea for details. Truth lies in the details""). But for all of that, it's really a pretentious flytrap.