For the first offering competently weaves scads of historical detail into her tale of Carol Simon`s journey from childhood ease in the 1920s to a hard-won position as wife, mother and career woman in the 1970s. Despite her father`s suicide during the Depression and an early forced marriage and widowhood, Carol continues to nurture her dream of becoming an architect. She moves to Manhattan, finds a job and mingles with a bohemian circle that includes idealistic Southern writer Seth Walden. Although separated by WW II, the two meet again in Paris and this time they wed. Their marriage has many vicissitudes: Seth, an unsuccessful writer, is blacklisted during the McCarthy era, and the couple move with their two children to his Georgia hometown. After many setbacks, Carol succeeds in her career while Seth becomes increasingly bitter and insecure. Aside from marriage crises, there are problems with the children and within their community. Although the plot of this rags-to-riches story is often predictable, it is redeemed by the author`s obvious respect for certain ideals and her likable characters.