This memoir-memento of Ada Leverson by her daughter, who here keeps a very discreet distance, is a frail souvenir of the ""Sphinx of Pleasure,"" as she was dubbed by Wilde, and the intimates of her acquaintance, all semi-precious gems of the late '90's who frequented her salon for the ""scintillating or beautiful."" Ada, who looked like Sarah Bernhardt, put up with a rather indifferent marriage for many years but never indulged in any overt liaisons. She was not only a good friend of Oscar Wilde's (who encouraged her minor literary talent along with some major extravagances) but also of George Moore's and Beerbohm's and Beardsley's -- and she of course contributed to the lavender pages of The Yellow Book. In later years she wrote her own rather well received, now only faintly remembered novels; having lost her wealth along with her husband who disappeared into the Canadian woods with an illegitimate daughter, her old circle partly dissipated by death, she acquired the Sitwells and Maugham as her literary proteges... A very special world this, of taste and sensibility, in which the Sphinx was a kind of hothouse bloom whose fragrance lingers on for the coterie. It is small but steadfast.