Books: Mother's Lib

MRS. WALLOP by Peter De Vries. 310 pages. Little, Brown. $6.95.

Between the time the hammer hits the thumb and the brain signals the bad news, there is an instant when the victim is at peace with the absurdity of the situation. Mrs. Wallop prolongs that moment of truce longer and more cleverly than most of Peter De Vries' previous eleven novels.

As a grand entertainment, the book is an animated suspension of De Vries' 30 years' war to unite tragedy and farce, faith and despair. It has none of the wrenchings of personal loss...