This author is an undoubtedly gifted satirist of the provincial heartlands but unfortunately he sometimes slips into didacticism. In this Christmas holiday tale of how a divorced father attempts to guide his son to the rich life, only to be instructed himself, the main course falls flat but the savories are exquisitely diverting. Holed up in his home town of Salt Lake City to write a book about George Meredith (hence the title), divorced Dudley and visiting son Tad share a thunderous revulsion at the billboard All-American-Mormon antics of a tribe of cousins. But whereas Dudley expostulates upon the joys of an exemplary life in which natural juices flow free, Tad is attuned to Faberge eggs and Gregorian chants. Tad is enraptured by Elinore, a middle-aged spinster whose couture bespeaks sixth grade and her wraith-like aunts. Dudley, on the other hand, is bewildered by Tad's chaste night spent with the waitress Alice (whom his father beds regularly) and by Tad's angry denunciations of his doctrinaire heresies. But finally Dudley learns to listen as well as pontificate. . . . Some fine comedy although Tad wears a halo that pinches the reader's brow.