Ms. Goudges new release, ONE LAST DANCE, is her best relationship novel thus far. Set in modern day California, the story revolves around three sisters who must cope with a family tragedy on the eve of celebrating their parents 40th anniversary. But as the flowers and caterers are set to arrive, and the daughters are gathering, their father is murdered.

The killer is their own mother, Lydia, who, it seems, didnt have a dream marriage after all. Far from itand now the three sisters must sort through a labyrinth of deception.

Each sister, as conceived by Ms. Goudge, is a well-rounded, fascinating personality, and as the plot unfolds, and the conflicts emerge, each continues to struggle with her own ambitions, emotions, and personal problems, like a book within a book.

Daphne Seagrave is a literary novelist who meets up with her old flame, the assistant California D.A., when he is prosecuting her mother.

Sister number two, Kitty Seagrave, is the proprietress of Tea & Sympathy, a popular cafe in the small coastal town of Miramonte, California. Kitty is convinced of her mothers moral innocence, and acts to exonerate her. When she falls in love with a man nearly ten years her junior, she jeopardizes her hopes of adopting a baby.

Alex Seagrave Cardoza, the divorced mother of teenaged twins, works as a high-end real estate agent. She is outraged at her mothers vindictiveness and intent on proving her fathers innocence.

It is eventually up to Daphne and her sisters to make sense of the tragedy and find a way to free their mother, who insists on pleading guilty.

You wont want to miss this finely-wrought tapestry of an intricate family relationship that we all can relate to and believe in. Ms. Goudge is destined to be a 21st-century leader of womens fiction. (June, 384 pp., $24.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kathryn Falk