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The latest from Vanity Fair contributing editor Jacobs (Women About Town) has, at its core, a charming story about a grieving widow reborn, but it's pockmarked by pretentious dialogue and flat characters. Margret Snow quits her Ph.D. program in art to escape the romantic feelings she has toward her bird-watching partner (and Columbia University adviser), Charles Ashur. She whiles her time away as a window display designer at Saks and eventually works up the courage to confess her feelings, and they marry. Margret's memories shift between her and Charles's early bird-watching days and their marriage. But the most vivid parts of the novel are set in the gloomy present, when Margret, now a widow, throws herself in a new artistic direction that involves dead birds. Her connection to the dead sparrows and warblers seems more natural than the off-key relationships she has with the living, and her isolation from family and friends raises the question why she tries to keep the connections alive, while the grating banter between Margret and Charles only serves to caricaturize them. (June)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.