Books: Valley of the Guys

MAKING ENDS MEET

by BARBARA HOWAR 369 pages. Random House. $8.95.

In her first novel, Barbara Howar, the swinging Washington hostess turned writer and television personality, updates a story as familiar as My Sister Eileen: old-fashioned girl comes to the big city because she is too special to settle down with a small-town Chevy dealer. In her memoir Laughing All the Way (1973), North Carolina-born Howar outlined just how special she was. Emerging from postmarital tristesse, she became a Washington gossip item. Names dropped like martini olives. Jealousies were disguised by a jovial rictus....