York revisits Swan’s Knob as change takes hold of this small southern town.
In her debut work, The Piano Teacher, York followed the courtship of Roy Swan and Miss Wilma. Years later, York catches up with the pair as Wilma and Roy enjoy their seventh anniversary. It’s a pleasure to see the Swan’s savoring their late-in-life romance. When they aren’t canoodling, Roy occupies himself with his budding vineyard and Wilma with her piano lessons and choir rehearsals. The cozy and confident couple is in for a few surprises when events conspire to shake the foundation of their solid union. Change makes its way into the Swan house when Wilma’s teenaged granddaughter, Starling, is deposited on their doorstep. Starling, though thoroughly well adjusted, manages to liven up the Swan house with her music, trendy clothing and general insouciance. From there, things get more complicated. Roy is coaxed into hosting a music festival on the Swan family farm. What was pitched to Roy as a small gathering of local musicians turns into a nationally publicized event drawing thousands. All this excitement takes its toll on Roy, and he suffers a debilitating stroke. With the approach of the festival and the grape harvest, Roy must accept assistance from his neighbors. Wilma, in turn, learns to open her heart to receive the strength and support required to overcome this frightening episode. Sadly, York leaves too many questions unanswered at the end of the novel; the reader may feel as though the literary meal ended before dessert. And at times it seems that York doesn’t really know her characters intimately. Rather than mining for original material, she relies on a standard cast of southern-fried characters and a well-trod plotline.
Disappointing effort from York, a writer with plenty of potential but too few fresh ideas.