From the time she was seven, Jolene Temple has been a pawn between her feuding parents, each of whom has become practiced in kidnapping her from the other. She has been left emotionally suspended between two philosophies of life: that of her stolid, conventional father, "always saving for a rainy day," and of her recklessly adventurous mother, "always saying she enjoyed a little shower." Having adopted a different disguise each time her mother stole her away, at 19 Jolene is still unsure of her real identity; she is at ease only in acting a role. When she meets bland L. W. Dawson, she thinks he holds the answers to her quest to be "normal." Meanwhile, however, she has been posing for, and has become the mistress of, middle-aged, twice-divorced artist Henry Wozencrantz, who has much to teach her about facing life without running away. Set in present-day Texas of oil-bust hard times ("the whole state is claiming Chapter Eleven"), the novel delivers wickedly funny, incisive social commentary as well as vivid, quirky characters as outsized as the Lone Star State.