ONE LAST DANCE
Signet, May 2002
Reviewer Sissy Jacobson
Instead of celebrating their parentsí fortieth wedding anniversary, the Seagrave sisters come together to bury their father and attend their motherís trial for murder. Lydia Seagrave shot her husband, Dr. Vernon Seagrave, and confessed to the murder. But why did she do it? Lydia is stubbornly keeping her secrets to herself. From the outside looking in, the Seagrave family was ideal. Lydia, in addition to being wife, mother, and artist, was also an active volunteer. Vernon was head of Pathology at the local hospital. They have three grown daughters who have their own busy lives.
Daphne, a writer, is the wife of a prominent pediatrician and mother of two young children. They live in New York City in their penthouse apartment, unaware of any problems in her parentís marriage. Her daddy approved of her husband. Only she and her husband know that she is still in love with the boy her father didnít approve of.
Kitty quit her teaching job and converted the lower floor of her home into a tea salon. Its success is due in part to her wonderful baked goods. Daddy did not approve of her career change. Kitty has kept a secret from her family since she was a child.
Alex, divorced mother of teenage twin girls, is in debt over her head. She was on her way to ask daddy for a loan when she came upon the scene with police cars and ambulances at her parentsí house. She was her fatherís favorite, wasnít she? Alex also has secrets she had to keep. Daddy came first, to the detriment of her marriage.
Eileen Goudge has written another winner with ONE LAST DANCE. The plot keeps the reader guessing as the author slowly peels back the layers to reveal clues in tidbits scattered throughout the book. We find a family that has kept secrets from each other trying to prevent disillusionment, but now they have to face the past and come to grips with it.
The characters are so realistic we know them well by the end of the book. Even the secondary characters are as well developed as the main characters. Sometimes they almost take over from the main characters. There is Willa, young, undereducated, unsophisticated, unwed mother of two, who works for Kitty. She happily chatters all the time, but in that chatter, manages to slip in pearls of wisdom from time to time. We get to know Alexís best friend Leanne who spent most of her time at the Seagrave house when she was growing up, and at times pretended they were her family. Vernonís death hit her as hard as it did his own daughters. She too has a secret that even Alex doesnít know about. Then there is Sean who falls in love with Kitty. He is much younger but very mature and works hard at keeping his family together while pursuing a college education. Will Kitty be able overcome the age difference? We barely get a surface picture of Daphneís husband Robert but we do meet Johnny, her first love.
The author, while crafting a satisfactory ending, does leave some loose ends for readers to tie up themselves. We revisit Miramonte, California, and meet up with Kitty again in A TASTE OF HONEY, the second book in Goudgeís Carson Springs series. Goudge is the only author I have read who can write the older woman younger man scenario that I will accept and find attractive. She is one of my favorite authors. Her books, long and involved, are about families and friends and the dynamics that are a part of their make-up. I highly recommend ONE LAST DANCE for a completely satisfying and engrossing read.
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