..... is not a stage whisper; this is a very articulate novel, some of which could have stood a little editorial prompting, and again some of which is justified by the Slavic volatility-volubility of its heroine, Carla, an actress, first seen in her early twenties. Actually she comes by it honestly, from her father Boris, who emigrated from Russia via Paris and London to New York where most of this takes place- a dominant, demanding figure whose tyranny she will spend many years trying to escape. Now Carla, who has talent, is on the way up and the theatre setting here is a prominent part of the book. She also marries Jason Cartwright, a would-be writer, from a totally discrepant background, simple and Southern. The marriage never really gets off the ground except in bed; Jason drinks; has headaches; goes to analysts; and has other affairs, including Boris' last and much younger wife. There is a lot of passionate wrangling; there are other friends and/or lovers; and the finale leaves Carla totally alone, without the baby she wanted, without Boris- he dies, without Jason. Nancy Hallinan's second novel will rise or fall on its moodswing which is considerable but more temperamental Sturm than narrative Drang; women may find that it has a certain headlong readability and essentially it is fiction on the level of say Lael T. Wertenbaker or Eileen Bassing.