Twenty-year-old Joan Mitchell has lived her entire life in the stately New Orleans house on Coliseum Street, where her mother and half sister have steadily undermined her self-regard. To Joan, her fate seems sealed and strangely inconsequential. Then a brief affair with Michael Kern, a man she knows to be a cad but is drawn to anyway, unfurls for her a surreal sequence of events -- pregnancy, an abortion, and eventually withdrawal into a numbed existence. Only a growing obsession with Michael and a yearning to fill her cavernous loneliness spur Joan to any premeditated action. An intricate psychological novel that plumbs the pain and rage born of identity and volition suppressed.