THE WOMAN WHO LIVED IN A PROLOGUE
by Nina Schneider
Houghton Mifflin; 479 pages; $13.95
Nina Schneider has taken the title of her remarkable first novel from The Tempest: "What's past is prologue." The woman who lived in a prologue is a canny, cultivated Jewish matriarch who looks back upon her life story as a relentless series of false starts. As Ariadne Arkady tells it, hers was the archetypal "womanly" existence destined for the girl child born to immigrant parents around the turn of the 20th century. Denied a college education by her doting but traditional father, she is matched to an accountant...