One feels that this is a portrait rather than a novel, a portrait in dialogue and successive arresting situations, to be sure, but set in something of a vacuum. One feels neither the roots of the past nor the development of the future. And in spite of this it is entertaining reading and psychologically interesting. It is the story of the complex relationship between Zoe, twice divorced, and her college-age son and daughter by different fathers. Zoe has been a spectacular newspaper woman, author of one hit play and a ""promising"" biography of George Sand, never completed. She is an alcoholic, but manages through the desperate efforts of her devoted children at watch-dogging and covering up, to do publicity for a worthy Foundation. She is beautiful and ruthlessly egomaniac. She seduces her daughter's young men and breaks up her son's budding love affairs. The son's father, a world famous architect, returns from Japan and attempts to get his talented son to California to visit- and perhaps work-with him. Zoe intercepts important letters, confusing his life completely. The story is told almost wholly in dialogue, bright, outrageous and amusing- if one can detach oneself from the underlying tragedy. As someone says ""We're all so damned articulate."" ...In the end, the daughter escapes in marriage to a strong, understanding man, who has resisted Zoe's blandishments; the son walks out on the situation. And Zoe is left, seductively luring her dull neighbors, whom she has called ""the Platitudes"", to cook her dinner. What her future will be-with both anchors gone- is anybody's guess.