Yearning for a life of the mind, Ruth Puttermesser finds herself mired in the lowest circles of city bureaucracy. Her love life hopeless, her fantasies more influential than wan reality, she nevertheless turns out to be the best mayor New York City has ever elected. Soon enough, though, paradise gained becomes paradise lost, and--even for a wistful visionary like Puttermesser--the problem of disappointment remains unresolved.