Good Things I Wish You
By A. Manette Ansay
Harper, Hardcover, 9780061239960, 272pp.
Publication Date: July 1, 2009
List Price: $25.99*
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The acclaimed author of Vinegar Hill returns with a story of two unlikely romancesone historical, the other modern-dayseparated by thousands of miles and well over a century.
Battling feelings of loss and apathy in the wake of a painful divorce, novelist Jeanette struggles to complete a book about the long-term relationship between Clara Schumann, a celebrated pianist and the wife of the composer Robert Schumann, and her husband's protÉgÉ, the handsome young composer Johannes Brahms. Although this legendary love triangle has been studied exhaustively, Jeanetteherself a gifted pianistwonders about the enduring nature of Clara and Johannes's lifelong attachment. Were they just "best friends," as both steadfastly claimed? Or was the relationship complicated by desires that may or may not have been consummated?
Through a chance encounter, Jeanette meets Hart, a mysterious, worldly entrepreneur who is a native of Clara's birthplace, Leipzig, Germany. Hart's casual help with translations quickly blossoms into something more. There are things about men and women, he insists, that do not change. The two embark on a whirlwind emotional journey that leads Jeanette across Germany and Switzerland to a crossroads similar to that faced by Clara Schumannalso a mother, also an artistmore than a century earlier.
Accompanied by photographs, sketches, and notes from past and present, A. Manette Ansay's original blend of fiction and history captures the timeless nature of love and friendship between women and men.
“Intriguingly accompanied by reproductions of Schumann-Brahms ephemera, Ansay’s inventive exploration of this eternal romantic conundrum is equally paradoxical in its execution. Spare yet sumptuous, precise yet lavish, Ansay nimbly sifts historical fact through an admittedly autobiographical filter to deliver a richly textured study.”
“Reminiscent of The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Good Things I Wish You employs a rich and daring metafictional spin on one of the great romances in history to investigate passion and love—and what doesn’t change between women and men. Manette Ansay takes great risks to deliver great rewards.”
“GOOD THINGS I WISH YOU leaves no variation unexplored, and its delicate melody lingers after the final page.”
-South Florida Sun Sentinel
“A poignant and arresting duet of the historic and the contemporary. . . . Ansay sprinkles bits of letters, photographs and drawings throughout the novel, a deft touch that adds to the book’s evocative moods of past and present.”
“Good Things I Wish You is a lyrical, haunting exploration of loves past and present. Witty, sprightly, surprising, this deeply original and utterly captivating new novel by A. Manette Ansay beguiles the senses and dazzles the heart. A beautiful book.”
“In this pleasure of a book, two love stories are entwined. . . . Photos, scraps from letters and diaries, make this book a fascination. The questions posed by Hart and Jeannette are timeless, as Ansay has them debate the true nature of the Clara-Johannes relationship.”
“Ansay’s novel addresses the important question of what role art plays in life. . . . The photos convey a more intimate account of history, as if the reader were flipping through a personal scrapbook belonging to Clara’s or Robert’s descendants.”
-Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A meditation on art and love in the European mode. . . . [Ansay] is a gifted and sure-handed storyteller.”
-Milwaukee Journal Sentinel