From a beginning tone of earnestness and high purpose, this first novel, an exploration of moral experience, decelerates into a documentation of personal anxiety, a debilitating blend of intimacy and malice and twisted love. Against the contrived background of studied urbanity in an art colony in the Catskills, a world tinseled and vacuous, is developed the progression into emotional bankruptcy of three lives, recorded by Roger Becket, a watcher, involved beyond his willingness. After Mark's death, his twenty-year-old wife, Elizabeth, leaves the Pennsylvania university town where her husband taught, to live in Highkill with Margot, Mark's first wife, a commercial artist. Elizabeth is a beautiful, willful, intriguing creature, fascinated by her own perversities and fascinating to Margot who loves her but is ashamed of her feelings, to Roger who, unsure of his own role and responsibilities is afraid of her, and to Gib, who sees her as another in a long line of bedfellows. Mark's death has been for Roger the beginning of his self-realization through the relationships which it thrust upon him. This adroitly articulated sketch of the habitues of fabricated Bohemia is alert and sensitive, all fierce knowing and emotional torment but limited in its intensity by the setting it chooses.