A mild little tear-jerker about an alcoholic widow who realizes she is loved. After bashing her car into a local liquor store, 61 -year-old artist Lonnie Manchester-Burke is placed in an alcohol rehab program but escapes with the help of her friend, the boisterous Greek sculptor Nikos, who calls her his ""little Baklava"" and says things like: ""Ah, these words, they fall out of mouth like so many pieces of broken glass."" Lonnie refuses to admit that she has a problem, even when gently urged to do so by her other northern California friends like Margo the potter and Joe the born-again Christian. Worse yet, her daughter Jill is nagging away at her, and this tosses Lonnie into a lot of boozy reminiscences concerning her dead businessman husband John, a stiff in more ways than one ("" 'Who's Sisyphus?' John asked, not raising his eyes from the sports section""), and her son David, long lost in Vietnam. She finally stops drinking and even starts painting again (""Mrs. Burke? I'm Randolph Hapgood, curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art""), but then is laid low by alcoholic hepatitis. Her chances are only 50-50. Will she make it? The emotional ambiance here is strictly Rod McKuen, but this first novel motors along on a determined sincerity not unlike that of a TV/movie about a serious illness--which is what, in fact, the story most resembles.