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Published in 1950, his first novel was acclaimed by Gore Vidal as "Splendidly written, precise, short, complete and fine." It is the story of a wealthy, fiftyish American widow, recently a famous stage beauty, but now "drifting." The novel opens soon after her husband's death and her retirement from the theatre, as Mrs. Stone tries to adjust to her aimless new life in Rome. She is adjusting, too, to aging ("The knowledge that her beauty was lost had come upon her recently and it was still occasionally forgotten.") With poignant wit and his own particular brand of relish, Williams charts her drift into an affair with a cruel young gigolo: "As compelling, as fascinating, and as technically skilled as his plays." ( Publishers Weekly )