(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

In Step-Ball-Change, a “feel good” novel that will make you laugh aloud, sixty-two- year-old aching-knee dance instructor Caroline McSwain tells her story. Two ringing telephones interrupt Caroline and Tom McSwain’s dinner. One call is from daughter Kay, sobbing happily over becoming engaged. The other call is from Caroline’s sister Taffy, crying inconsolably because her husband left her for a younger woman. Caroline’s life is about to change, and not only because Woodrow, the black contractor hired to add a Florida room, discovers a crumbling foundation and becomes a semi-permanent resident of the kitchen while trying to keep the house from collapsing.

Taffy comes for an extended visit and brings along a terrier named Stamp, who bites. Kay is unsure she wants to marry Trey, her fiance and the most eligible bachelor in Raleigh, because she is still sleeping with Jack, the district attorney, and hoping that Trey’s interest in her will make Jack propose marriage. Trey’s mother, planning a reception for one thousand guests, points out that the bride’s family is traditionally responsible for wedding costs. Caroline’s accountant reacts with uncontrolled laughter. George, Caroline’s twenty-five- year-old son and a talented dancer, has moved back home to attend law school and is smitten at first sight by the contractor’s daughter, Erica. Woodrow himself seems to be showing an interest in Taffy, who turns out to have hidden talents.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself reading sections aloud to your friends.