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Author:
• Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Susanne Dunlap was born in 1943 in Buffalo, New York. After finishing school she studied mathematics major at Bucknell University before quitting for an English major. Dunlap obtained a masters degree in education from the University of North Carolina and a major in music from Smith. Then, thirteen years later, she went back to achieve an MA in musicology and finally obtained a PhD in music history from Yale University after eight years of study.

Susanne Dunlap has worked as a legal assistant, a Yoga teacher and a music history teacher. In 1986 she was a founding member and president of Sisters in Crime – an organisation that provides advice and support to mystery authors and promotes women crime writers. She has been an Associate Creative Director at a small advertising agency in Manhattan and won the Anthony and Macavity awards – a literary award for mystery writers. Dunlap has two grown-up daughters and grandchildren.

Susanne Dunlap has written several books and short stories. After reading a novel by Agatha Christie she decided to become a writer of crime and mystery fiction. The Musician’s Daughter, published in 2009, has been nominated for the Utah Beehive Award and the Missouri Gateway Readers Award.

The Musician’s Daughter is a historical fiction set in eighteenth century imperial Vienna with its opulent palaces and its Viennese and Hungarian nobilities as well as the wonderful world of Viennese music, alongside poor gypsy camps, exoticism and folklore.

On Christmas eve Theresa’s father, Antonius Schurman, the finest violinist who plays in prince Nicholas Esterhazy’s court orchestra conducted by the distinguished Kappelmeister Franz Joseph Haydn, is brought back home dead by three of his colleagues. They find that he has been killed out of town by the river Danube, near a gypsy camp.

The intelligent, fifteen-year-old, Theresa, knows that her father had no enemies and was kind to everyone. She sets her mind on unravelling this perplexing mystery, courageously, on her own. Like a detective, she spends her time gathering clues and facing several dangerous adventures and in the end she finds the culprit.

Theresa is a liberated girl ahead of her time. She refuses to comply with the tradition of accepting any suitor. She is discretely in love with the young Hungarian musician Zoltan who is involved in the same mysterious intrigues as her. She dreams of becoming a musician like her beloved father, although she knows that society at the time finds women musicians unacceptable. After her father’s death, she takes control of her mother and little brother, with the help of her God-father, Haydn, .

After the breadwinner of the family dies, Franz Joseph Haydn, who is losing his eyesight, helps his God-daughter, Theresa, financially, during this difficult period by employing her as copyist for his compositions. Theresa is very grateful, she needs the money desperately, especially with a helpless, bereaved mother at the end of her pregnancy and a brother about to start a violin maker apprenticeship lasting nine years.

Theresa decides to find her father’s murderer and retrieve her late father’s old, valuable, stolen, Italian, Amati violin – the very same violin that Theresa loved and was taught to play by her father. All she has to go by for starting her pursuit is a mysterious gold pendant that she has never seen before, found round her father’s neck.

As the story unfolds, Theresa discovers she is penetrating into a world of deceit, conspiracy and political intrigues. She will acquire information and consequently learn that her father was against injustice. He was against Hungarian serfs and against the hunting down of gypsy camps. He was spying in order to unveil the atrocious behaviour of the Hungarian lords.

She will also find out that her highly positioned rich uncle, was making money by selling young boys to become Hungarian serfs. Theresa, with the help of some of her late father’s colleagues and some gypsies will extricate her kidnapped little brother, Toby from her evil uncle’s grasp.

The Musician’s Daughter, written by an indisputable music history lover, is a pleasant, entertaining,well described, easy-read mystery adventure, abounding with action and twists. The story starts off at a slow pace before catching-up and moving at a faster steady rhythm, building up the tension until the unveiling of the last twist.

Theresa, Mirela and Danior’s characters are especially sympathetic and well portrayed. The novel has good historical insight into the non existence of women’s rights as well as social security rights and is filled with social injustice. These are some of the problems of the time in this area of the world. The author describes the abominable way the Hungarian lords obtained their serfs and how gypsy people suffered by being unfairly persecuted. Even today the plight of gypsies remains an unsolved problem in many countries of the world.

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Author:
• Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Abha Dawesar was born in New Delhi, India, in 1974. She obtained a degree in philosophy from Harvard University and started a career in finance which she had to forgo when her two novels, Miniplanner and Babyji became great successes.

Abha Dawesar received the Lambda Literary Award in 2005 and the American Library Association’s Stonewall Award in 2006. She was also awarded a Fiction Fellowship in 2000 by the New York foundation of the Arts. Abha Dawesar lives in New York.

Due to her young age, her bibliography is short, but acclaimed by critics.
She published Miniplanner in 2000.
Her second novel Babyji was published in 2005.
That Summer in Paris was published in 2006.
Family Values was published in 2009.

Abha Dawesar is a self taught video maker and a visual artist. Her photographs have been exhibited in New York City.

That Summer in Paris is the story of a successful, Nobel prize winner, seventy five-year-old Indian writer, Prem Rustum who discovers that his life is nearly over without him seeing the years passing. He realises that he has spent too much time writing novels. In spite of his old age he hasn’t given up on love and decides to rest his pen and enjoy the few years left for him to live, preferably with a charming female soul mate.

Searching on Internet under his name, he discovers unexpectedly messages from one of his admirers, Maya; an intellectual, ambitious, twenty five year old aspiring writer, who admits openly on the web her admiration and passion for his work. He decides to meet her. They felt captivated by each other’s charm straight away and on a whim Prem decides to follow Maya, from New York to Paris, where she has a writing fellowship. The unconventional, uneasy relationship between the two main characters begins.

Prem’s love for Maya will make him reminisce over his old incestuous love with his older sister Meher, to his sensual experience with the two sixteen-year old French girls and will confront him with his rekindled desires and his approaching mortality. The theme of life and death mentioned in the novel, is a subject which Dawesar is obsessed with, as she mentioned it in one of her interviews.

For the romance to take place the author couldn’t have chosen a better clichéd place than Paris, the most beautiful and romantic city in the world, which Dawesar is very found of and visits often. The very meticulous description of the people, the paintings, the city’s streets, restaurants and French gastronomy, the various attractions and art galleries, transports the readers into a different world of romantic fantasy, but also a meditation about ageing, passion, achievement, literature and art.

The detailed and explicit descriptions of the sex scenes are gratuitous, perverse and crude, it undermines an otherwise good story about lost love, relationships and the beauty of how art can influence love and love, art. Which promotes the immortality of real love and genuine art. In her endeavour to sex-up her story, Dawesar belittles the interesting and numerous discussions between Prem, his Parisian friend, Pascal Boutin, the famous novelist and Maya his muse.