Once again, Chace (Intimacy, 1989) creates an icy and impressive voice, but too often her elliptical acrobatics serve as an end unto themselves rather than advancing the plot. This story of marital stress and maternal love starts with narrator Kate's puzzling admission that ``Hank and I weren't in love by the time we married.'' Nevertheless, Hank left his wife for Kate, and she bullied him into having a child by insisting that it would create intimacy. But if this is meant to be a story about a woman who plows ahead with what she wants (as intimated by her admission that ``I am a calculating person and I am a selfish person''), it is not clear that she ever wanted Hank. The question of why she married him in the first place is never answered satisfactorily (he's controlling, he keeps track of Kate's periods on a calendar and selects her clothing). Instead, Chace offers a jumble of non-reasons, including youth, initial sexual attraction, and the fact that Hank was from the town where Kate was born. Naturally, Kate is an unreliable narrator, but there is not enough reality peeking through her constructions to clue the reader into what is really going on. Some things develop with astonishing speed in this novel. Kate's daughter, Eliza, has an elementary school friend named Benjamin whose mother is dying. One day, after dropping Benjamin at home following a play date, Kate encounters his mother on a park bench. They introduce themselves and immediately fall into a deep, meaningful conversation. Although Kate professes great love for Eliza, she seems more bemused than involved, and there are too many passages that just read like Chace repeating cute things she has heard some child say. Like an extended phone call with a witty--if depressed--friend who never knows when to hang up.