Thursday, 19 January 2012

Stephanie Cowell - Marying Mozart

Stephanie Cowell's  Marying Mozart
Book Description
 Mannheim, 1777. The four Weber sisters, daughters of a musical family, share a crowded, artistic life in a ramshackle house. Their father scrapes by as a music copyist; their mother keeps a book of prospective suitors hidden in the kitchen. The sisters struggle with these marriage prospects as well as their musical futures-until one evening at their home, when 21-year- old Wolfgang Mozart walks into their lives.
No longer a prodigy and struggling to find his own place in the music world, Mozart is enthralled with the Weber sisters: Aloysia’s beauty and talent captivates him; Josefa’s rich voice inspires him; Sophie becomes his confidante; and Constanze comes to play a surprising role in his life.
Eighteenth-century Europe comes alive with unforgiving winters and yawning princes; scheming parents and the enduring passions of young talent. Set in Mannheim, Munich, Salzburg and Vienna, Marrying Mozart is the richly textured love story of a remarkable historical figure-and four young women who engaged his passion, his music, and his heart

Former opera singer Cowell, whose previous novel (1997's The Players) explored the apprenticeship years of a callow Shakespeare, turns her eye to the women in the life of a young Mozart in her fourth graceful and entertaining historical. Music copyist Fridolin Weber and his socially ambitious wife, Marie Caecilia, have four daughters—bookish and devout Sophie; quiet Constanze; beautiful, silver-voiced Aloysia; and headstrong Josefa—whom they struggle to keep in hats and hose. Though the freethinking girls may wonder about the benefits of marrying well vs. marrying for love, Caecilia, whose family once had money, is terrified of growing old a pauper. Pinning her hopes on her prettiest daughter, 16-year-old Aloysia, Caecilia aims for a Swedish baron as suitor (though she keeps a list of backups in a notebook). Aloysia falls in love with the young Mozart, however, who happily returns her affections, though he, too, wonders about marrying better to support his father and beloved mother. But when the Webers move to Munich from Mannheim, Caecilia's hopes for good matches begin to dim, as Josefa takes a married lover and a pregnant Aloysia runs away with a painter who, along with Mozart, had been boarding with the family. As Mozart progresses in his career, he has relationships with the other Weber sisters, too, and falls alternately in and out of favor with their bitter old mother. Told through the recollections of an aging Sophie, the tale is as rich and unhurried as 18th-century court life.
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My fifth novel CLAUDE & CAMILLE: A NOVEL OF CLAUDE MONET was published April 6th 2010. It was a work of tremendous passion for me to create Claude in his days of struggle to make a name for himself and to bring to life his great love for the elusive Camille whom he went on loving for as long as he lived though he lost her young. He wasn't always the old bearded man among his water lilies; he was handsome and desperately poor and she was beautiful; he wanted to succeed for himself and for her.

Art has been in my life since my first memories; both my parents were artists and I grew up with the smell of oil paints and was taken to art galleries; the stories of the impressionists' lives and works are among my earliest memories.

I was born in New York City and fell in love with history, music, Shakespeare and art almost at once. I loved all things English and European.

I started to write stories very young, and by the age of twenty had won prizes twice in a national story contest. In my early twenties, I left writing and began to train my voice for opera, and as a lyric coloratura soprano sang many roles, including a great deal of Mozart. I also became a balladeer with a specialty in English folk songs, a lecturer on English social history, formed a classical singing ensemble and an opera group called Strawberry, for which I translated Mozart's "La Clemenza di Tito." This led to my return to writing.

"Nicholas Cooke: Actor, Soldier, Physician, Priest" was published by W.W. Norton in the fall of 1993; it was followed by "The Physician of London" in 1995 and "The Players: A novel of the young Shakespeare" in 1997. "The Physician of London" won an American Book Award. "Marrying Mozart" was published in 2004, and has been translated into several languages: French, German, Italian, Polish, and Portuguese.

I am married to the poet and spiritual director Russell Clay. We make our home on the Upper West Side of New York City where we live in an apartment with thousands of books.

To me, being an historical novelist is one of the best things in the world

Stephanie Cowell's superbly evocative, wonderful novel takes the reader from Salzburg in 1842, where an English biographer is interviewing the last surviving Weber sister, back to the Weber home in Mannheim in the 18th century and the era of Mozart, when their relationships with him all began. It tells the riveting, moving stories of all three sisters and the era itself is evoked in a fascinating wealth of detail, so that we are truly back in it. Ms. Cowell's writing is so exquisite, so romantic and so realistic at the same time that we can even feel the weather and the cold winter snow, so perfectly does Ms. Cowell bring it to life with telling detail.
Her characters are living, breathing human beings, and we have a highly credible, complicated, real, completely believable Mozart. Here at last is the little man who wrote the great music, and we can feel his genius and his sensitivity in all its complexity.
The Weber family, all of them, including the extended family of in-laws, is a powerful, sensitive evocation of the life of the century with all its differences in customs, and the life of Vienna and the court and the world of music are all engrossingly, lovingly, and magnificently depicted.
There are startlingly beautiful scenes and a story that is compelling from beginning to end. You must buy and read and reread this magnificent recreation of a long-gone time and of the brilliant people who inhabit it!