Again, in her 7th book, Schaeffer (The Madness of a Seduced Woman; Love) hones her richly-detailed prose on a study of family and nature, and, as in Mainland, drops into the midst of a family the wife's lover, who befriends her children. Iris, the blond, green-eyed heroine, is herself a novelist, a sensitive plant with a ""fainting couch"" in her rose-colored study full of Victorian bric-a-brac and dolls. She also has a word processor; a rational, kind and literate husband who's a university professor; a beautiful daughter and loyal son; a devoted Haitian housekeeper; an oversized city house; and a Vermont country-house, where she keeps her snowmobile. Despite all this, Iris is depressed. Recently hospitalized for a high fever--brought on, she's sure, by a bad review of her new book--she has come home to bed and refuses to talk with anyone. So a woman who's got everything has problems. Who wants to know? We do, as it turns out, for these characters are not so shallow as to be defined by what they do for a living or what they own. Iris' ex-lover, John, who jilted her 26 years ago, arrives on their doorstep, dying of a degenerative disease. The family takes John in because Iris talks to him, and her husband sees him as the catalyst to get her out of bed. It works. Next question: Will Iris get back into bed, this time with the ex-lover, on a weekend in the country house? Fortunately, the book avoids the obvious, and, meanwhile, Schaeffer shows us something about the courage it takes to go on living and getting involved with others when one knows one's own death is imminent. While the reader will do well to skip the poetry the ex-lovers write to each other on the word processor, this is, overall, a heartwarming, literate, and very wise book that manages to be authentically compelling.