Former Reagan speechwriter Noonan (What I Saw at the Revolution, 1990) reflects on life outside the Beltway with charm and wit -- and a privileged insider's view. Noonan moved to New York to raise her son and make a living as a journalist. Although she has been called back to Washington from time to time -- notably on emergency speechwriting chores for George Bush during his 1992 campaign -- this is her story of ""real life"" in the Big Apple. First, it should be made clear that Noonan lives on the ritzy Upper East Side and takes a lot of cabs, that her son goes to private school, and that the parties she attends are social events reported in the New York Times. That said, it is easy to enjoy, if not always agree with, her commentary on life as a single mother in the '90s. ""There's no such thing as quality time,"" she says. ""There's only time,"" just being there ""in the daily boringness."" She cites a friend who launched a career out of ambition and maintains it now because she must help pay the mortgage. Why, wonders Noonan, must everyone own a home and have a mortgage? Because of the tax deductions, she flashes. Which proves that our tax burdens are too heavy. Calling current American culture ""coarse,"" she observes that romance has faded and marriage has become a ""deal."" She offers astute perceptions about President Clinton, politics, and politicians. ""Old Republicans come from guilty Greenwich; young Republicans have less gelt and so less guilt."" Young Republicans, she says, favor think tanks and Rush Limbaugh over Jay Leno and Gridiron dinners. She is at home -- if not always happy -- with the Republican Party, but ideology does not override observation in this book. Fun to read, skillfully written with guess-who-this-is anecdotes, but still inside a beltway of the mind.