In a rippling, facile style, with some dazzlements of imagery, Bloch (On the Great Circle Route) counterpoints crises in the lives of two cousins--raised (unintentionally) in a mutual dependency by their twin mothers. Jiffie Berglund and Nina Fremont: they look alike in early birthday photos. But Jiffie, whose father is rich and pathologically indulgent, revels in the camera's eye, while Nina, daugher of a gauzily reclusive professor (who keeps his family ""on an emotional holding pattern""), is shadowed by self-consciousness. And in adolescence the difference shifts a bit--Jiffie now dislikes scrutiny, Nina's eyes are less veiled--so it isn't surprising that adulthood will take them on very different paths. Jiffie has a terrible, secret abortion at college (result of an affair with a drama coach); she then quickly gets pregnant again and marries status-hungry law student Tim; she neglects daughter Meggie through eight years of loveless marriage (with the ""soft licking indulgence"" of monied nothings), gets a divorce, drifts alone in Europe for a year--and after Tim's quick remarriage humiliates her, she returns to a childhood specialty: stealing, now at Bonwit's. Meanwhile, Nina has become a Ph.D. and an anthropology teacher at Columbia, finding true love with Saul (whom Jiffie tries to steal). And then Jiffie, searching for her stillborn Self, does pull off her greatest theft of all: the kidnapping of Meggie. So Nina, though fighting the mind-breaking tragedy of Saul's accidental death, begins a nightmare pursuit of her cousin, who is teasing and playful in her madness. Despite some uneven characterization (the men are only lightly sketched): a darkly glinting portrait of some gilded, empty lives--with an additional glimmer of acidulous social commentary.