For a woman in the Western world, there's no escaping beauty. She has it or she doesn't. If she doesn't, she may hope to gain it. If she already has it, she will certainly lose it. But what is "it"? Not a singular thing, Francette Pacteau tells us, but a generic term for an unspecifiable number of disparate experiences. What these experiences are, what they mean, how they manifest themselves as a notion of beauty is the subject of Pacteau's book, an intriguing psychoanalytic study of beauty that looks into the eye of the beholder and into the mind conjuring behind it. Her book is an ambitious attempt to describe the mise-en-scène of beauty within a particular field of representations; that of the beauty of a woman.