The Piano Girls

Elizabeth Smither



Twenty funny, tender, compassionate, sharply observed stories.

Three musical sisters honour their mother with a piano recital every year in her memory. They compete with one another, practising in secret to see who can be the best. In other stories, music, food, and restaurants are themes. A woman fends off a seducer by cooking up a storm; there is a cat called Min; an elderly woman is the pet of a group of young men; an agonising breakup takes place in a luxury hotel; and a young woman is obsessed with her breasts. 

These are funny, tender, sharply observed stories written in a style that is engaging, humorous, but always compassionate. 

Elizabeth Smither has always loved short stories: the way they can highpoint a life, reveal a future, show tenderness in the smallest detail. She believes there is no better way to examine what it is to be human.

Short stories always seem to leave something up in the air: the outcome is not fixed. Elizabeth believes that everyone has short stories inside them: incidents and adventures, failures and joys, all to be examined after the event.

Additional information

Weight 0.9 kg
Dimensions 15.3 × 15 × 23.4 cm

About the Author

Elizabeth Smither has published six collections of short stories, six novels, eighteen collections of poetry, as well as journals and memoirs. She was poet laureate (2001–03) and was awarded an Hon. D.Litt by Auckland University in 2004 and the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry in 2008. Her poetry collection, Night Horse, won the Ockham NZ Book Award for poetry in 2018. 

Look Inside

To look inside the book, click on the link below:


ISBN: 978-0-9951329-8-6

Pages: 240

Dimensions: 153mm x 234mm

Format: Trade Paperback

Author: Elizabeth Smither

Published: 2021


“The first thing about her short stories is that they immediately take you into their closely observed world of good, decent New Zealanders going about their emotional lives in chaos. The second thing is their wit. Everything she writes is an instant delight.”

– Steve Braunias

“Elizabeth Smither cements her status as one of Aotearoa’s best writers with this collection of short stories that examine what it is to be human… A winner from a writer with a strong sense of large and small tragedies.”

– Sharon Stephenson, Woman Magazine

“I read Elizabeth Smither because she writes about wonderfully smart and complex women, offering sensitive insight into their domestic lives and relationships…

“I read Elizabeth Smither because in her books no-one is ordinary; no matter how banal their daily routines, the people in her stories are endlessly complex and interesting in their emotional and intellectual lives…

“I read Elizabeth Smither for the powerful sense of movement and action in her work, for the athletic flexibility of her intellect…

“I read Elizabeth Smither to be immersed in worlds that are themselves immersed in literature…”

– Louise O’Brien, writing on the ANZL Fellow’s page of the Acadamy of New Zealand Literature website