In a surprise improvement over After, his debut as novelist, playwright Anderson (Tea and Sympathy, I Never Sang for My Father) is now managing to work into his fiction some of the direct, true emotionalism that has made his stage writing appealing. The scene is strictly Ã la mode: interiors by Bloomingdale's; a cast of professionally and conveniently mobile characters (lawyers, literary folk, TV producers); and the most au courant of dilemmas--separation, divorce, unwilling sexual rootlessness. In his late forties and very prosperous, lawyer Jack Montgomery is told by his writer wife Cat that she wants a separation. Jack is stunned, then hurt--none of his confused feelings helped by the fact that only a month earlier he took up with a friend's wife and fell deeply, almost innocently in love with her. That straying seemed so compartmentalized to him, yet now it figures coincidentally in the destruction of the most familiar parts of his life. Reluctant bachelor Jack takes a sabbatical from his firm, moves to Cambridge, Mass., and in due time meets a young divorcÃ‰e, mother of two, with whom he tries to simulate a domestic arrangement. At which point it all becomes sticky: his New York girl, Kim, grows jealous of his Cambridge girl, Janet; Janet, seeing Jack for what he is, a nostalgia-sick husband in male menopause, is willing to carry him along just so far; and Cat won't have him back--she's had her fill of marriage for the time being. All Jack has, knows he truly has, is his relationship with his aging and sick Irish setter, Debbie--and the scene in which he must put her away is legitimately, artfully heartbreaking. ""Life is what happens while you're making other plans"" is a saying that Jack--and Anderson--likes: it just about sums up the spirit of this book, where opportunities never quite dovetail, where personal lives resist easy solution. Without overwhelming prose skills, Anderson still has brought to his material remarkable discrimination--an uncommon accomplishment.