Leah Rubel seems to have drawn the Old Maid from a deck which really wasn't stacked to begin with; now she's 37, ""a grief to herself and a puzzle to her friends""; old enough to have reality mimic her hopes while the years are taking her looks. Hers is not the lonely passion of Judith Hearne-- she's had men, but they just didn't add up to marriage. During the wintry week or two spent here with Leah she is seen with her parents, her father Max, whose dapper charm doesn't quite camouflage his pretensions and failures; her mother, hopeful that Max will come back to her; her boss Harry who is going broke and trying to save himself from his wife through Leah; her old friend Irving who offers her a companionable permanence; and finally Dave, whom she meets at a party, attractive and attracted, and for a short time, almost possible to love... Seymour Epstein, who started writing at about the same time as Philip Roth, handles this same milieu (the more or less assimilated Jews) with much of his sharpness, but he has never gotten as far although he has many appreciable virtues. Among them-- vitality and assurance; a remarkably accurate eye and ear; and a shrewd sense of life and the ways of the world not only well lost for love but cribbed by compromise. What else- it's immensely readable.