An intelligent first novel, already excerpted in the New Yorker, that admirably avoids melodrama but sometimes tries too hard to be witty as it wrestles with the darkness beneath its glossy surface. Written in the form of journal entries, recollections, and finally as a straightforward narrative, it is a story of friendship between two young women of similar backgrounds, each burdened by an unhappy past. When 26-year-old award-winning photographer Harriet Rose arrives to spend a month in Geneva taking pictures, she bunks with her old Greenwich Village roommate, Anne Gordon. In New York the two had been the best of friends, soul-sisters who shared the same humor, tastes, and opinions, but Harriet finds Anne greatly changed. Not only is she ``frighteningly accessorized'' (her arms are ``racked with silver bangles''), but she ``has acquired an edge that was not there in New York.'' She has also acquired a lover: middle-aged and married Victor, who now works in Geneva for an international organization but was a friend of Anne's father, a fellow inmate of his at Auschwitz. Harriet, who is writing a journal for her own lover, Benedict, an artist, describes how each day she must vacate the apartment so that Anne and Victor can share their lunchtime tryst. Harriet is not impressed with Victor, who's obviously making Anne unhappy, but when Harriet tries to help, Anne insists that she herself is the ``monster.'' Meantime, both women recall the terrible losses of their childhoods: Anne discovered her mother's dead body, and her father was haunted by the Holocaust; Harriet saw her brother die, her mother go mad, and her father disappear. But it seems that Anne, increasingly troubled by her unhappiness (``I am already dead inside, no longer real''), can't be helped by even her dearest friend. A bit awkward and uneven at times, but, still, much to admire. A promising debut.