Bedbound and speechless, communicating only by the flutter of an eyelid with which she can actually spell out a little via Morse code to her granddaughter who loves her exceptionally and the new young doctor who attends her with equal feeling--here lies Augusta Tucker at 84, about to cross the bar. Thus Perilous Voyage has a precarious theme, if much closer to home this year, although Mrs. Wertenbaker is not so much concerned with the issue of survival as Augusta's retaining ""Her Very Own Self"" which she discovered and clenched since the age of five. She became a fiercely idiosyncratic, independent woman who never knew her own strength or conceded to the old age which she kept postponing, determined that it would not overtake her until she was 85. Augusta's story, flashing back through the better-preserved mind in the hull of her body, concerns her only semi-attached marriage to a man who died in WW I; the daughter she sent away at fourteen to become as self-sufficient as she was; her intermittent career as a psychic from Tarot cards to Hollywood readings; occasional loves and one real caprice--stealing a diamond from Tiffany's which she later pawned. An unsettled life at best, worth far less than the identity she's now so set on keeping intact, but there are catchy points of interest. And if you can't take the country out of the boy, how can you take the Southern wisteria out of Mrs. Wertenbaker, or even her sense of sentimental female allegiance--close to tyranny--which is what you may like or not like about her books.