Bookmarks Issue: 
11-July-Aug-2004
By: 
Lynn York
user_rating: 
0

A-PianoTeacherThe proper Southern lady of the title, Miss Wilma Mabry, struggles to make ends meet in the fictional town of Swan’s Knob, North Carolina, years after her husband’s suicide. Yet she enjoys her tidy, quiet life teaching piano and playing for local weddings. Enter her adult daughter, Sarah, with her own daughter in tow, and they quickly turn Miss Wilma’s world upside down. Her estranged son-in-law, accompanied by a mysterious stranger, soon appears. Unfortunately, they time their arrival with the murder of a local police officer, and all havoc breaks loose in Miss Wilma’s once-calm town.
Plume. 304 pages. $13.

Charlotte Observer 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The Piano Teacher deserves a wide audience. … Based on this debut, [a series is] a bright prospect." Lynne McNeil

St. Petersburg Times 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The writing is good, the characters interesting and the plots challenging but not horrific enough to cause nightmares. … It is formulaic fiction, to be sure, and enjoyable." Mary Jane Park

Winston-Salem Journal 2.5 of 5 Stars
"It’s as if [York] mixed together the small-town color and humor of Mayberry, a Vietnam-era coming-of-age story and a murder mystery of the cozy variety, threw in a couple of romances for spice and simmered it all together. The result is a pleasing and engaging concoction—more than enough to keep a reader going—but there will be times when some readers will wish for just a bit more refinement of the recipe." Linda Brinson

Critical Summary

Creating another Mayberry in the spirit of "The Andy Griffith Show" is a daunting task—creating a believable one, even more so. Most critics mentioned that the author’s North Carolina upbringing resulted in a novel with a strong sense of place, convincing dialogue, and believable characterization. A few reviewers faulted York for some minor inconsistencies and factual errors. Yet they found these shortcomings forgivable because "along the way to finding at least some of the answers, readers will enjoy moments of comedy and poignancy, suspense and tenderness" (Winston-Salem Journal). Most agree that Miss Wilma and the other citizens of Swan’s Knob should provide plenty of fodder for what looks to become an intriguing, enjoyable series.