Freedom, love, and the complications brought about by conflict between the two are the subjects of earnest soul-searching on a sun-kissed Greek island: a lyrical tale (and first US appearance) by English-born, Italian-resident Riviâ‰¤re. Mistress of a seaside, olive-groved paradise, the aging widow Laura Rodostamo has invited family and friends to her estate for the usual summer gathering. Laura's beloved goddaughter, Imogen Scottow, as lithe and blithe a spirit as ever floated through life, has arrived with her 15-month-old daughter, whose father Imogen has adamantly refused to identify so as not to sully her own independence. Then into the picture steps another of Laura's guests, eagle-beaked Dario De Corvaro--and from the first shocked encounter between him and Imogen, notions that he's the child's father take hold. Laura, her powers of mind failing before the certainty that Death is near, determines to reconcile the two, who admit to her separately that they were once lovers but had a falling out. Knowing Imogen's pride and her own boundless love for her goddaughter, Laura tactfully maneuvers to keep the couple from hastily rejecting each other, only to think her efforts are for nought when Imogen gets defensive after dinner, denying that Dario is the father but declining to say who is. Laura retreats, but as the night's magic of moon and sea gains strength, Dario and Imogen find each other anew at the water's edge. The lovers reach an understanding that allows them to unite as partners in adventure without taking the conventional, seemingly entrapping course of marriage. Land, sea, and sky, shimmeringly evoked with a romantic's eye and a master's brush, give great delight here, while the characters interact less charmingly through a series of inner monologues--a psychologically penetrating technique, to be sure, but demanding and slow-going for the reader.