Another endless kaffeklatsch novel by the author of After the Reunion, 1985, etc., this one surveying the bumps and grinds of four women's lives from 1959 on. However, this time the thing that connects them isn't an alma mater, but a charming schmuck of a man and their masochistic devotion to him. The man in question is Clay Bowen, a TV producer with a talent for serving up cleverly disguised rehashes of established hits, and with a seemingly insatiable appetite for women--especially if they're of the adoring but not too clingy kind. Clinginess is what deep-sixes his long marriage to Laura Hays--a prima ballerina who retires her pointe shoes when she gets pregnant with ""elusive and secretive"" Nina, then alienates Clay completely with her anorexia and drug-dependency. Though still married to the 90-pound zombie, Clay begins a relationship with the writer Susan Josephs, author of a best-selling book on wife abuse--which is ironic, since Clay will spend the next 17 years ""softly"" abusing her, stealing rights to her New York magazine cover stories and eventually ousting her from his Beverly Hills bungalow and taking up with TV hopeful Bambi Green--whose name tells you all you need to know about her. In the end, of course, all of Clay's women (including his love-stunted daughter) get over him--a process that is helped by the fact that he eventually dies of a much-deserved anxiety attack. Books about masochistic women are becoming as common as pigeons, and Jaffe's adds nothing to the obese body of literature on the subject. But her fans are bound to rally round--if only because this one doesn't stray from the garrulously whiny formula.