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Step-ball-change : a novel
Jeanne Ray
Adult Fiction RAY

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Ray's snappy second novel takes place in a chaotic but comfortable Southern household led by an appealingly down-to-earth matriarch. Caroline McSwain, a dance instructor in her 60s, is sitting down to dinner with her devoted husband, Tom, a public defender, when two phones ring simultaneously to interrupt their rare moment of privacy. Ten minutes later, her estranged, flighty sister, Taffy, newly separated from her husband, has decided to come from Atlanta for an extended visit, with her nasty terrier in tow. And the McSwains' only daughter, Kay, has just gotten engaged to Trey Bennet, a member of Raleigh's bluest-blooded family, but she still hasn't gotten over Jack, a charming district attorney. Meanwhile, Caroline and Tom's home is undergoing what seems like a never-ending renovation, eating up their retirement fund. Kay's wedding plans get complicated (and expensive); Caroline and Taffy start finding common ground; even the terrier calms down, thanks to Woodrow, a contractor who has taken a shine to Taffy. Caroline is an endearing narrator, realistic and self-deprecating; when things start to get out of control, her love for her family helps her to keep things on track. Although Ray (Julie and Romeo) allows the sap level to rise a little too high as the inevitable picture-perfect ending rolls around, she has a gift for lively dialogue that makes the characters (Caroline and Tom especially) snap into place. 7-city author tour. (May) Forecast: The cheerily romantic Julie and Romeo has sold nearly half a million copies. Ray mines similar ground here and can expect a warm reception from her fans. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Here is a second gem from Ray (Julie and Romeo), who, like her talented daughter, Ann Patchett, has a style of her own. In Raleigh, NC, Caroline has been happily married for 40 years, has four grown children, and teaches dance. But now the foundation of her family's house is cracked, and contractor Woodrow and his crew take over. Also cracked is the marriage of her sister, who, despite past differences, now rushes to Caroline with her ankle-biting dog and enough clothes for an extremely long visit. Caroline's daughter, Kay, becomes engaged to the wealthiest young man in town, and a huge, obscenely expensive wedding looms ahead. Through these and other complications, Ray's novel explores what love and marriage mean across the years, how to recognize the "real thing," and whether adults can transcend artificial restrictions to seek true happiness. Funny, believable, and full of surprises, this novel, like time with a good friend, is over far too soon. Strongly recommended for popular fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/02.] Rebecca Kelm, Northern Kentucky Univ. Lib., Highland Heights (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Carolina McSwain
Age: 60s
Dance school owner

Tom McSwain
Age: 60s
Carolina's husband of forty-two years.

Kay McSwain
Age: 30
Carolina's daughter; engaged to the richest eligible guy in town.

Carolina's sister; hysterical over her husband's decision to leave her for a much younger woman.

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