The once famous singer Peg Sawbridge and her daughter Cleo live in palatial flat in New York City. Peg's personal project is being the patron of Jared Wakeman, a young and extremely handsome up and coming actor who would probably be living on the street without her support. The problem with that is that Peg's fortune is running out and she will soon be penniless. Enter Mr. Hennings, a 94-year old man with a weakness for young men, even though he's married to attractive Cuban woman named Estrellita. Hennings is attracted to Jared and Jared in turn is captivated by his wife. And then Peg and her daughter are both in love with Jared. Can you see where this is going? What you have in this novel is a group of people manuevering for money and for love, and power over others. How far will the Sawbridges and Jared sacrifice their integrity, or really, their souls, to the devilish figure of Mr. Hennings? They don't want to defy him too much since he has promised to build a theater just to showcase Jared!
This novel is very good at showing the similarity between love and dependency, one being the ugly twin of the other. This novel almost goes beyond sex, and takes it to a realm beyond even sexual orientation. Purdy writes almost as a scientist sent down to observe aliens when he writes about these people. The problem with it was that you never get the flesh and blood and thought of the characters. It almost feels like a closet drama, and indeed a lot of the language has a Shakespearean ring to it. They never seemed quite human and the novel became more like a Platonic dialogue on emotional dictators.