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STRANGER IN PARADISE

Eileen Goudge, Author . Viking $24.95 (321p) ISBN 978-0-670-89987-6

"A woman alone is no good to anyone" could be the rallying cry for bestselling author Goudge's kickoff to a new series, the Carson Springs trilogy (following One Last Dance). Situated east of Santa Barbara, Calif., Carson Springs and its Spanish-style architecture and orange groves provide the scenic backdrop for a tale about second chances, focusing on 48-year-old Samantha "Sam" Kiley and her daughters, Alice and Laura. As the story opens, Alice is about to marry Wes Carpenter, a Ted Turneresque entertainment mogul nearly 30 years her senior. Then Wes's son, Ian, takes a shine to Sam and the two become romantically involved, alarming Sam's daughters and setting the gossipy town abuzz. Laura, divorced because she couldn't bear children, and given to taking in strays, gets a new lease on life when she provides shelter for 16-year-old female runaway Finch, introduced to the reader in the prologue as being on the lam following a violent incident in Brooklyn. Goudge's fictional test of one of society's great inconsistencies—that it's okay for a man to be with a much younger woman, but not the reverse—is interesting, but the supposed scandal caused when Sam reveals she is pregnant is dated, given how increasingly common it is for older women to bear children. Despite Finch's dramatic appearance in the prologue, her story line is incidental, forgotten for long stretches of time and, when it is finally wrapped up, like everything else in this Fiction Lite territory, it's in a too-neat package. Agent, Susan Ginsburg of Writers House. (June 25)

Reviewed on: 05/07/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
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FORMATS
Paperback - 571 pages - 978-0-7862-3447-9
Hardcover - 586 pages - 978-0-7862-3446-2
Mass Market Paperbound - 432 pages - 978-0-451-20577-3
Compact Disc - 978-0-7927-2653-1
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7927-2603-6
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-7927-4192-3
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