It is October 17, 1849, Chopin has just taken his last labored breath. Solange Dudevant Clsinger, George Sands unloved daughter, is at his bedside, but Sand herself is nowhere to be found. Solange, deeply grieved by the loss of Chopin, with whom she feels she has always been in love, takes a letter fragment from the last letter Sand wrote to Chopin breaking off their relationship. In the letter fragment, Sand accuses Chopin of taking sides with Solange in a family battle and tells him that this has sounded the death knell for their relationship. Married to a man she doesnt love, Solange Dudevant Clsinger decides to try to find out why her mother abandoned Chopin and does not show up at his deathbed. She begins a search of the quays of Paris, claiming that she believes she saw her mother wandering them in the past few days. Her mothers friend, Charlotte Marlinai, assures her that Sand is not in Paris but in her country home at Nohant. Something in Marlianis evasive answers and her refusal to invite Solange into her home causes Solange to suspect that perhaps she is hiding her mother. In her attempt to avoid her hard drinking, abusive husband who is making his bid to sculpt Chopins funeral monument, Solange retreats to their home and begins a plan to try to find out where her mother is and why she didnt appear at Chopins bedside. She begins a series of visits to the people closest to Chopin to try to learn as much as she can about the history of the relationship between Sand and Chopin and also to find out more about what people knew or didnt know about her relationship with Chopin that could have triggered such enraged jealousy in her mother. She visits Charlotte again the next day to find her much more welcoming now that she isnt trying to hide a lover from her husband. Charlotte begins the process of educating Solange about the history of Sands relationship with Chopin. Solanges quest is interspersed with memories of past times in Chopins company and with fantasies of wished for greater intimacy with him. The influx of information that comes to her showing the initial deep bond between Chopin and Sand doesnt dissuade Solange from believing that Chopin was truly in love with her as she was with him and that that was what caused Sand to eventually abandon him so cruelly. Solange alternates between a strong belief in the fact of the love between her and Chopin and in a need to discover evidence to prove the truth of it. Auguste Clsinger comes home drunk and angry because Solange is so preoccupied with her grief over Chopin that she has forgotten to join him at a dinner where he is to make his bid to sculpt the funeral monument. He comes upon her in the bath, abuses her verbally, and forces her to have sex with him. She seeks refuge the next day in the studio of Eugne Delacroix, a devoted friend of both Chopin and Sand. He says he has no idea where Sand is and why she didnt appear at Chopins deathbed. Delacroix sees the bruise on her eye and promises to try to play the diplomat in mending the rupture between Solange and her husband. Solange seeks refuge in the Luxembourg Gardens and meets Count Albert Grzymala, a Polish ex-patriot and long-time friend of both Sand and Chopin. Grzymala, too, has no idea where Sand is and is deeply grieved by the loss of his dear friend, Chopin. He fills in some blanks for Solange about the early days of Sands relationship with Chopin. She tries to rationalize her jealousy over the truth of the deep bond between her mother and Chopin. Throughout her quest, Solange is visited with dreams both divine and nightmarish. Her next visit is to Jane Stirling, the Scotswoman who took care of Chopin at the end, paying his rent at 12 Place Vendme and for his elaborate funeral at the Church of the Madeleine. Solange and Jane find comfort in one another and share a playing of one of Chopins nocturnes. Solange contrasts the purity of Janes love for Chopin with that of her mother and the dif
It is 1989, and as Paris prepares to celebrate the bicentennial of the French Revolution, Marguerite Brunel, a well-known novelist, begins to write her memoir in an attempt to finally face the ghosts, pain, and turbulence of her past. She revisits the places in Paris where she lived with her family on Isle St. Louis during the Occupation when her father’s restaurant was occupied below by members of the Resistance and above by the Nazi officers. She connects with her memories of her relationship with Thomas Stassler, a Nazi translator who speaks beautiful French and shares her love of French Literature. Her illicit relationship with him is her first love affair, and it leaves a lasting imprint. The process of writing the memoir leads Marguerite to wander around Paris seeking the places of her past and activating her memories. The narrative is not linear but follows the bubbling up of Marguerite’s recollections during the course of her wanderings. Her marriage to the abusive Roger Merle when she is twenty-seven liberates her from her teaching duties and allows her time to begin to write her novels, but the price for this becomes harder and harder to pay. When he gets hold of her journals from the time of her relationship with Thomas, he threatens to expose her as a collaborator—something that would surely ruin her literary career. Probably because he realizes the impact this would have on his own reputation, he doesn’t do this, and he eventually releases her from the bondage of the power struggle that is their marriage. In an attempt to escape the aftermath of her divorce, she travels to Florence where she meets Alberto, a painter of large abstract canvases, and has an intense affair with him that liberates the sensual woman in her and builds on her experience with Thomas. With some reluctance, Marguerite returns to Paris to work on her next novel, City of Painters and Bankers. It is when she meets Pascal Dubois that her life changes forever. They begin their relationship at the Paris Conservatoire where he is a piano teacher and a composer. Marguerite has begun to take piano lessons and literally runs into him one day in the hall. She knows immediately that he will change her life, and he does. When his bitter and unhappy wife refuses to give him a divorce, he leaves his marriage, moves into a small apartment, and he and Marguerite begin a series of rendezvous at Hôtel Chopin before moving in together. It is at a midnight mass at Notre Dame that they have their personal marriage ceremony without benefit of church or state sanction. When they move in together in an apartment at 6 Rue du Dragon, Marguerite begins to live the happiest days of her life. Pascal begins to compose more, and her writing flourishes. It is during their time spent in an apartment at San Malo overlooking the Atlantic Ocean that they are forced to face the fact that Pascal is very ill. The first diagnosis is severe bronchial pneumonia, which is treated with antibiotics to some effect. However, when he fails to fully recover, they are forced to face the severity of his illness. He is diagnosed with a pernicious form of lung cancer, and Marguerite begins a death watch that ends in her helping Pascal to die by giving him an overdose of his pain medication in combination with the morphine he is receiving by injection. Marguerite keeps this devastating outcome to herself, and all that the world knows, so she thinks, is that Pascal’s untimely death is from his cancer. Several years after Pascal’s death, at the time Marguerite begins her memoir, a letter from Evan Dubois, Pascal’s son, informs her that there will be a CD produced of Pascal’s piano performances. It is when this turns into a public celebration that Marguerite begins to feel uneasy. She attends the ceremony and relives her relationship with Pascal while hearing his performances. When the concert is over, she is accosted by Charlotte Dubois, Pascal’s wife, and accused of murdering Pascal. She threaten
Tavistock Square is a tale of roads taken, roads not taken, roads missed and last acts. The novel is a series of parallel narrations in which two long-lost lovers, Rebecca Janus, an American woman of a certain age, who comes at last to live in London, and Sydney Turner, a London actor and painter, almost twenty years her junior, make their way towards a longed-for reunion with unexpected and devastating consequences.
PRO PATRIA MORI is a story of friendship, rupture and healing. It deals with the fate of three friends: Trevor Howe, from London and Cornwall; Ernst Steiner, from Lubeck, Germany; and Etienne Bonnard, from Fontainebleau, France, all fellow students at Morton College, Oxford, in 1914, just before the outbreak of the Great War. Each enlists to fight for his country and suffers the physical and spiritual consequences of a war which ushers in a new kind of mechanized slaughter. The novel explores the consequences of various types of death for ones country and ends as the world is about to come apart with the outbreak of World War II. The book opens in November, 1938, with Trevor Howe in the midst of a recurring dream about the war wound to his left hand. He has received a letter from Kristina Steiner, the sister of his best friend from Oxford. She tells him that there is to be a memorial service for her brother at Morton College, Oxford, and that she hopes he will attend. Trevor is grieved and relieved to finally learn the fate of his childhood friend -- that he was killed in 1914 at the first battle of Ypres. The novel continues with the paralell stories of Trevor Howe and Kristina Steiner as they try to reconnect. Due to her Jewish grandparents, Kristina is unable to get out of Germany after Krystalnacht to attend the ceremony for Ernst at Oxford. Her fate becomes progressively more entwined with that of Herr Commandant Karl Hauptmann, a Nazi officer who has been assigned by the party to watch over her. The central problem of the protagonist, Trevor Howe is to come to terms with the wounds of his past, both psychological and physical, and to reconnect with his ability to love and create. He does this by trying to reconnect with Kristina Steiner, by reencountering another old friend, Etinne Bonnard, who had dealt with his wound by using his art, and by reinvolving himself with Bonnards sister, Genevieve. The novel explores the various types of death for ones country -- the physical death of Ernst Steiner, the death of the soul and creative spirit of Trevor Howe and Etienne Bonnards loss of a youthful and vibrant personality. Bonnard helps Trevor reconnect with his creativity and to write the memoir that liberates the artist in him, and Trevor helps Bonnard recapture some of his youthful joie de vivre, while Kristina Steiner suffers a more sinster fate. The book ends as the world is about to come apart again with the outbreak of World War II.
Vanishing Point is a tale of fatal connections in which the lives of three men, a philandering judge, a disenchanted academic and an unrelenting defense attorney, are irrevocably altered by their involvement with Theresa Tavola, a troubled young woman, whose tragic death brings them all to heel.
Italian Hours features three short, interconnected novellas. Tricks of the Heart, set in Rome, explores the impact of the recent papal conclave on a group of Romans and expats. Holiness of the Hearts Affections finds a woman returning to Florence after the death of the estranged love of her life to process that loss. To Cease Upon the Midnight Hour charts the journey of a pianist who is trying to outrun the progress of a motor neuron disease in order to give his last concert at La Fenice in Venice.