Step Ball Change is a tap-dancing term. That’s the first thing you need to know. The second is that this book is a lot of fun. I was sitting on the beach whining about the book on my Kindle when a friendly neighbor, sitting in the sand with us, offered me Step Ball Change as a charming alternative. Which it was.
Caroline McSwain is the 62-year-old proprietor of a dancing school in Raleigh, NC. She has a really nice husband who’s a public defender and four grown children, all lawyers except for the youngest, George, who is in law school and is also a wonderful dancer. (He’s pretty hot stuff, even on the page.) Kay gets engaged to a rich man whose family intimidates Caroline. Taffy, Caroline’s younger sister, leaves her boorish husband and lands on her sister. The house is falling apart and the contractor Woodrow seems to spend most of his time drinking coffee in the kitchen. Taffy brings with her a horrible terrier named Stamp (great name for a dog) who bites everyone in sight until Woodrow takes him on as a project.
You’re aware all along that the stakes are not terribly high — these are fundamentally pleasant middle-class family members, but conjugal happiness is at stake for everyone. The writing is delightful. I laughed out loud in spots and leaked a few satisfying tears at the end. Perfect beach reading.