Lady Billington's first novel met with very mixed opinions--from ""beady-eyed"" parody to a frightfully silly frivolity for those unable to see past Beautiful's practiced pout. While admittedly a far stronger story, this has the same annoyances; her contemporary moderns wear dandified clothes and may be greeted with a line like ""How gossamer you are this evening."" Three young people--Fenella, an art student, Edward, a painter, and Tristram, his friend, a jester, poseur and drug-taker--meet in Italy where they float through Venice and Florence and back to England. Edward and Fenella marry but live apart; she becomes pregnant and loses the child and then her wits; Edward paints a nice (the only nice character in the book) young window-cleaner with consuming obsession while permitting two much older women, Tristram's mother and his patroness, to seduce him. Only Fenella's suicide lends a certain tragic touch which Edward converts immediately to canvas since he responds only in pictorial terms, feels nothing. A curious, where not outlandish, destructive world with elegant mannerisms.