Lynn York is destined to be the next Bailey White. Her second novel about Swan’s Knob folks, The Sweet Life,
is heartwarming comedy at its best. York never has the intention of making the characters of her fictional North
Carolina village buffoons. She paints realistic portraits of people I’d like to know (or have known in my life),
who are both flawed and noble. It is their foibles and the constraints of their community that often put them in
This current installment in the escapades of the Swan’s Knob folks centers around the elderly couple, Roy Swan
and the widow, Wilma Clay. The Piano Teacher, the first of York’s works on this community, brought Roy and
Wilma together. In The Sweet Life, readers find the couple eight years later, married and dealing with the
invasion of their serene life together by Wilma’s teenage granddaughter, Star, who also finds love in this small
town. Further complicating this change in the simple workings of their life together is Wilma’s ex-son-in-law,
Harper Chilton, who has another scheme up his sleeve. This time it’s an old-time music festival he wants to promote
on Roy’s farm. But it is Roy’s illness that brings out the best and the worst in the community.
York sets the story in 1988, an era of transition that has been called the dawn of the Me Generation. Gone is
the shock of Boomers and their message of sexual freedom and equality. But, those ideals are becoming engrained in
a new generation as young Star comes of age in a town that remains grounded in the 1950s. Towns like Swan’s Knob,
however, still exist across the country, despite cell phones, computers, and cable tv. York captures that timeless
This isn’t a "hillbilly" novel. Being from the South myself, I often bristle at stereotypes of us mountain-bred.
York deals with Methodists near the Blue Ridge Mountains, a much less maligned group, with closer ties to the
Piedmont regions of the state. But it is York’s deft characterizations and witty turns of phrase that make the
folks of Swan’s Knob so real, the humor so rich, and the human drama that unfolds so poignant.
York’s novels are on the par with films like Cookie’s Fortune and Daddy’s Dyin’. This is an