As shiny as nail polish with just that kind of mortality when it chips, this is the story of Carol Prince who decides early on in her young life that wifehood and choredom are not for her -- she's happy in her work as a feature writer for glossy magazines (this could have appeared in one), wandering on and off film sets and in and out of bars and having unattached affairs. By the time she's 38 and most of her friends have gotten divorces and Women's Lib has arrived, she feels quite justified as well as pleasantly self-sufficient. But then she meets Matthew Fitzgerald who is married and attractive and successful and rich and who is equally determined to remain uninvolved but little by little, first in his monastic apartment, then in another one, they begin to live exclusively for each other and he gives her the last option. . . . This is Rona Jaffe's most finished and most appealing book since The Best of Everything, and there's something about Carol, a little sick, a little scatty, which undercuts all that cleverness, vulnerably.