Monday, February 24, 2014

The Soprano who Inspired Mozart


"Vienna Nocturne" by Vivian Shotwell

 

In the late 18th Century, the only places where a singer could become truly famous were in Italy and Vienna. So that's where the British child prodigy Anna Storace went to show off her amazing voice. Her rise to fame was legendary, as was her friendship with none other than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. For her, he wrote the part of Suzanna in his opera "The Marriage of Figaro" and a rondo for soprano and piano that is considered one of his finest pieces. In her debut novel "Vienna Nocturne," Vivian Shotwell investigates the woman behind the voice and her relationship with music, its patrons and its creators.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Job of a Woman


The Puttermesser Papers by Cynthia Ozick


Ruth Puttermesser is a keenly intelligent woman and a fervent feminist, who by all rights should have been living an exceptionally amazing life. But despite her Ivy League law degree and total dedication, at age 34 she seems stuck with her lack of ambition in an ambiguous sounding New York City municipal department. But that doesn't mean she's boring. In fact, she's anything but that, mostly because she's been observing things - everything. So when work suddenly turns sour she takes things into her own hands. However, are the upheavals and chaos that ensue her own doing, or not?

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Glimmer to Find What Was Lost


Light Shining in the Forest by Paul Torday


Norman Stokoe is the new "Children's Czar" of England's Northumberland, and he has fallen between bureaucratic cracks with the newly formed government. He has a brand new position but no green-light to do anything. Still, with a good salary, his secretary Pippa and an office with a budget, things could be worse. Then Willie, a small-time reporter from a local newspaper, comes to him with a theory about some children who have gone missing. Everyone has labeled them as runaways, but Willie doesn't believe it. Soon both Pippa and Norman agree, but now they're on their own to find out the truth.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Music to Soothe the TB Chest

A White Wind Blew by James Markert


Wolfgang Pike is a driven man. From a young age, his father trained him in many musical instruments, hoping he would become a musician and composer. As Wolfgang grew, he dreamt of writing a symphony, but then he fell in love with the Catholic Church and felt his calling was to become a priest. That was until he met Rose, whose generous heart brought him to volunteer with WW1 soldiers that had fallen victim to the Spanish Flu. So he put aside his seminary studies, married her and became a doctor. The TB epidemic brought him to Waverly sanitarium, and Rose's death, turned his unfinished symphony into a Requiem. In the novel "A White Wind Blew" James Markert brings all of Wolfgang's callings together in an intricate dance, on the discordant stage of late 1920s Louisville, Kentucky.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Artful Stories


"Dreaming Rodin" by John M. Flynn


With John M. Flynn's collection of short stories, "Dreaming Rodin" we get a very mixed bag indeed - and I mean this in a good way. There is a whole lot to commend this short collection that is jam packed with surprises.



To begin with, we get a full dozen stories included here, which are:

  • Pluto on Sundays
  • Desire Equals Rain
  • Where the Mountains are Tinged with Silver
  • The Fig Tree
  • Harmony Loves a Violin
  • Cajolery
  • Charred Rotator
  • R-Man the G-Unit
  • The Size of Need
  • All the Rich Men in Heaven
  • The Man with his Wife Painted on his Chest
  • Dreaming Rodin