Malone's first novel tells the story of Nettie Rhodes, a housewife who is abused by her husband and subjugated into submission by her religion. Her only friend is her sister, a liberated member of NOW. By listening to her sister, Nettie undergoes a gradual transformation from a timid housewife into a self-aware, enlightened individual. Her story is interesting, but, unfortunately, not quite believable. After 17 years telling her how to clean the house and beating her for imagined slights, her husband hardly says a word when she finally leaves him. In addition, Nettie makes this transformation from a shadow to a real person without seeming to realize it. It may be that life does change in this way--so gradually that monumental changes are unnoticed--but the reader is left wishing for characters who are more thoughtful. Reasonably entertaining but not an essential purchase.-- Kathy Armendt Sorci, IIT Research Inst ., Annapolis, Md.