Freydberg again applies her graceful, if perhaps overabundant, style to plights of bothered folk driven to exploring new vistas of love and being. Unlike the author's last novel (Katherine's House, 1986), where the central character carried the meditative weight, here a more interesting handful of characters alternates reflections on relationships and psychic bounty. Thirty-eight-year-old Syra, married to gentle, boring Georges, feels that the union is ""calcifying"" her--the free spirit who behaves just as she feels. Then a letter, a call for help, comes from Syra's cousin--ill, self-loathing, fastidious Lewis, who lives in an eastern rural town. Syra, in a ""vivid surge"" of love goes to him--but a joyful Syra cannot restrain the sexual desire she's always felt for Lewis. Was it this that would cause his death? Following the funeral, ripples from Lewis' demise become tidal waves among friends and neighbors: Syra announces to Georges that she's leaving him; Lewis' ex-lover makes overtures to Georges; Syra and Mrs. Alexander, a lively aristocratic elder, begin a rich friendship; and Anne, worshipful wife of essayist Rupert, publicly skewers him with a bitter truth. Rupert will also discover with Syra a liberating joy. The emotional morasses of those loving Syra ooze on, yet all will arrive at a new view of love--from Syra's ""simply a way of being"" to Anne and Rupert's sunset accommodations to their marriage. In spite of too large a dose of Syra's depressingly elfin high spirits--which produce awfuls like ""that soared my spirits"" or ""this arrows me""--she and her co-experiencers tease apart their tangled webs plausibly and with some style. Overstrenuous, perhaps, but bright and appealing.