It's an old theme--the stuffed shirt who learns to loosen the collar buttons; the Sleeping Beauty who wakes up to life. It's Mason Leafy in The Accidental Tourist. It's Garbo in Ninotchka. And, here, it's Eva Mueller in this moving and richly textured new novel from the author of The Mind-Body Problem (1983). Eva, a native of Germany, is a 46-year-old distinguished professor of philosophy at an American university. She is devoted to detachment, to teaching, and to the works of Spinoza. She is also beautiful in an icy-blond fashion, but she spurns all offers of love--or even friendship. Love, we learn, has only meant betrayal in her past. Her first and only affair was brutal and degrading. Her adoring, gentle, music-loving Papa turns out to have been a Nazi. But things begin to change for Eva when--without quite understanding why--she agrees to a summer tutorial with Michael Field, a bright and engaging 20-year-old student. As the summer progresses, Eva finds herself plunged into a vat of steamy feelings that she thought had dried up long ago. She fights to keep her cool, but it's hopeless--we enjoy watching her melt. Goldstein's writing has wonderful tension as Eva loses her grip. The details that haunt Eva--her father's beloved Wagner operas, the lyrics of Michael's Cyndi Lauper records--seem just right. At times, things get a bit heavy-handed: the Nazis and Spinoza march in and threaten to carry off the narrative. But Goldstein knows that, ultimately, this is Sleeping Beauty's story and that we're all impatient for The Kiss. The kiss that Will change everything. She doesn't disappoint us.