Laurie Colwin first appeared with a short story collection, Passion and Affect (1973), and it would seem that she hasn't quite graduated to the novel, however casually she writes -- in the pert first person of Olly (Elizabeth Olive) Bax, with her own transition to achieve. Her husband Sam has just died at the age of 30 in a freak boating accident although he's been flirting with death in one form or another for years. (It was just that reckless flair which attracted her.) She should have been his conscience rather than his ""appreciator."" Miss Colwin tells you this more than once -- she even keeps using the same words. Another favored qualifier is ""private"" which applies to Oily and also to Sam's brother Patrick; after four months of ""living in a sling"" they have an affair -- Patrick has always been in love with her, she only realizes it now -- and after a brief experience with another man who is also capable of friendship (a big point, this) she corroborates her genuine love for Patrick. Simpatico it is, sufficient it isn't -- reminding you that another kind of dangerous object is a little talent.