cover image Echoes of the Dance

Echoes of the Dance

Marcia Willett, . . St. Martin's, $24.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-312-36100-6

For her latest warmhearted take on love, change and relationships, Willett brings back Kate Webster (First Friends ; A Friend of the Family ), now a newly widowed grandmother living in Cornwall not far from Roly Carradine, a retired London photographer. While trying to persuade grieving Kate to adopt his newest stray dog, Floss, Roly agrees to take in a stray person, Daisy Quin, who, like Roly's sister, Mim, years before, has just suffered an accident that threatens to end her dancing career. Mim became a successful and beloved dancing instructor and wants to help Daisy follow her example, but Daisy is not ready to face that she may never dance again, or that the man she's in love with is not all he seems. Likewise, Roly's manipulative ex-wife, Monica, still pines for him; Roly retains a guilty secret; and Roly and Monica ignore the fact that their son, Nat, has secrets of his own. Chez Willett, friends help friends when they get "wumbled" (worried and jumbled) while courtship and marriage just wumble things up. Willett gets a bit wumbled herself, overexplaining the psychology of her characters and avoiding a happily-ever-after ending by substituting stagy sentimentality. Appealing, durable, human characters like Kate, Roly, Mim and Daisy deserve better. (Apr.)