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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
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TRYING NEAIRA:
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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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York, Lynn: The Piano Teacher

  Amazon  

4 stars

Fifty-something Wilma Mabry lives an ordered life--apron donned when preparing dinner, linen closet just so, and, always, the adoption of a supremely polite, even ostensibly indifferent exterior. This brand of southern gentility and a reliance on the comforts of routine have sustained Wilma--"Miss Wilma," the piano teacher of Lynn York's title--through marriage and motherhood and fifteen years of loneliness after her husband's suicide. But the price of maintaining equanimity has been a failure to communicate fully with the people closest to her. Wilma's relationship with her daughter Sarah, in particular, has suffered for it. During the course of the novel Wilma's ability to move through life seemingly unaffected is tested by a string of dramatic events: the unexpected attentions of a suitor, the murder of one of her Mayberry-sized town's policemen, and the unannounced appearance on  her front porch of Wilma's troubled daughter and granddaughter.

Although its plot revolves in part around a nasty murder and its solution, Lynn York's The Piano Teacher is a sweet, quiet novel. In it the relationships between Wilma and Sarah, and between Sarah and her husband, are explored and, while we're watching, subtly altered. The characters--particularly that of Wilma--are well drawn, and life in a small community in which non-conformity is checked by the threat of scandal is nicely evoked. The book gets off to a slow start in its initial chapter, but readers who keep with the book will be rewarded.

Comments

1.

The Piano Teacher is certainly a 'sweet, quiet' book. The psychological portrayals of the female characters are admirable. I would argue that Harper's (Miss Wilma's son-in-law) and Roy's are a little weak. This is perhaps a result of York attempting to portray the involved psyche of no fewer than four characters - perhaps she should have stuck to Miss Wilma and Sarah, who are certainly the most well-drawn of the four.

I believe it gains its sweet, quiet nature through Miss Wilma's attempt to constantly keep all under wraps. It is towards the end - when she learns to express her inner life to those around her that the reader gains a stronger sense of vitality from the characters' interactions.

2.

This is a great post, a reliable book review. Aside from playing my piano and teaching music to my dear students, reading has been my way of freeing myself from stresses and pressures. I started reading novels when I was still a teenager; and I must say that "The Piano Teacher" can be tagged as one of the most exciting novels to read. Its twists and highlights on motherhood, friendship, love and life are simply remarkable.

In this brilliant debut, Miss Wilma, the resident organist and piano teacher in the small Southern town of Swan's Knob, is delighted by the return of her prodigal daughter Sarah with her young granddaughter Starling, until Sarah's absentee husband Harper shows up; a murder shakes the peaceful community, and the enigmatic stranger and the prime suspect too, Jonah Branch arrives.

Thanks again and please do post more interesting and useful piano teaching resources and outputs.

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