Books: Prig's Progress

REAL PEOPLE by Alison Lurie. 180 pages. Random House. $4.95.

Janet Belle Smith, 42, is a minor short-story writer who is appreciated for her cultivated prose and sensitivity. Each summer she leaves her husband, an insurance exec, and her children for a stay at Illyria, a 500-acre arts preserve where writers, musicians, painters and sculptors create in secluded studios beneath hemlocks and pines. Tap-tap, tinkle-tinkle, scrape-scrape go the creative artists. Presumably, the hemlocks and pines murmur.

During her latest visit to Illyria, Janet settles down to a pallid little ghost story, only...

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