Tag-Archive for ◊ Stephanie Cowell ◊

• Friday, January 27th, 2017

Stephanie Cowell was born to a family of artists in New York City, USA and still lives there. She is married to the poet and reiki practitioner, Russell Clay, and they have two adult sons.

Since an early age, Cowell “fell in love with Mozart, Shakespeare and historical fiction”. She wrote short novels in her teens which were never published and in her twenties twice won prizes in national story contests. As Cowell decided to become a classical singer, she abandoned writing in order to train her voice as a lyric coloratura soprano for classical singing. She sang in many operas and formed a chamber opera company.

When Cowell decided to go back to writing she chose historical novels, first a trilogy about an actor and a seventeenth century physician called Nicholas Cooke: Actor, Soldier, Physician, Priest, the first part of which was published in 1993. She then wrote The Players: a novel about the young William Shakespeare, published in1997, followed by Marrying Mozart in 2004 and then Claude And Camille: A novel about Claude Monet and his first wife, Camille Doncieux, published in 2010.

Marrying Mozart, Cowell’s fourth novel, was created from the years when Cowell was singing Mozart operas. It brings together her writing and musical skills as well as her love for the world renowned great composer. The novel was translated into several languages and was also a big success in its stage production when it premiered in New York city in December 2012 with Mozart’s music and Opera Moderne and Dicapo Opera.

Stephanie Cowell, best known for writing historical fiction, has said about her novels: “We find facts in history books; we find living truth in historical fiction… It is because I love some periods of the past and certain people who lived within them so much that I became a writer.”

Inspired by real events, Stephanie Cowell’s captivating novel which successfully intertwines facts with fiction, takes us to the classical music world of eighteenth century Europe and brings it vibrantly to life by including certain customs, several secondary characters as well as some of the daily domestic life of the time. Like the Weber sisters who take turns every morning emptying the chamber pots or go four floors down to get the milk from the milk seller.

The novel begins in 1842 when Vincent Novello, an English biographer visiting Austria, takes the opportunity to visit Sophie, the youngest of the Weber sisters and the only surviving member of the Weber family. Sophie who was eleven years old when she first met Mozart on a Thursday evening at her parent’s home in Mannheim long ago, is now in her mid-seventies. At the biographer’s request, Sophie narrates events going back over the previous sixty years.

Sophie’s story starts in 1777 in Mannheim, Germany. Fridolin Weber, the father and family provider, manages with great difficulty to make a living for his large family. He is a violinist, music copyist and teacher. With his wife, Maria Caecilia, and his four daughters, Josefa, Aloysia, Constanze and Sophie, they have the habit of receiving their musician friends in their confined, decrepit apartment every Thursday evening. Among the invitees is a twenty one year old Austrian musician called Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, accompanied by his supportive, cherished mother Anna Maria, who join the party for the first time.

The young, highly talented Mozart who is no longer the five-year-old prodigy child, is now touring Europe with his mother, looking for work as a composer in order to support himself, his father Leopold, his mother and his only sister Maria Anna (nicknamed, Nannerl). Mozart’s greatest wish is to be given the opportunity to compose operas for a living and not to follow in his father’s footsteps by working as church musician for the unpleasant, condescending archbishop of Salzburg.

At the Webers’ Thursday soirée, Mozart is introduced to the four Weber daughters: the rebellious, stubborn Josefa with a full voice, is the eldest. The second is the beautiful and gifted soprano, Aloysia. The two eldest sisters have in common their rebelliousness and their eagerness to be independent from their manipulative, manic, socially ambitious mother, who keeps a notebook of rich suitors for each one of her daughters.

The third sister, Constanze, is silent and withdrawn and the youngest, Sophie, is pious and an avid reader. The two younger sisters, Constanze and Sophie, want to keep the family bond going for ever and are subdued and attached to their mother and siblings. Mozart will fall in love with Aloysia but fate and circumstances will make him marry Constanze.

Marrying Mozart is a well documented novel, written at an unhurried pace like the era it is set in. The author travelled to Salzburg, Mozart’s birth place, read history books and went through many sources before writing her lyrical, colourful novel.

The story, set in Mannheim, Munich, Salzburg and Vienna, is filled with small details and focuses mainly on the Weber sisters, their life, their brief moments of happiness, their desperation as well as their struggle to survive, after the early death of their provider and beloved father in a combative, hostile world and the male dominated society of the time.

Nonetheless, the most interesting part of the story is their relationship and friendship with the young, musical, passionate and determined Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose path intertwines with theirs and who is battling to have his music recognised by making a name for himself as a serious composer.

Stephanie Cowell’s novel is a delightful, enchanting journey to a different era and place. It is for music lovers in general and Mozart lovers in particular with an added zest of interesting historical facts and insight into mid eighteenth century European life. All spiced with a little romance.

• Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Here is a list of the books we have read and reviewed and will be reviewing in the coming months at the UNWG Book Club:

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The Human Stain by Philipp Roth

Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Youth & The End Of The Tether by Joseph Conrad
English Passengers by Matthew Kneale
Samarkand by Amin Maalouf
Portrait In Sepia by Isabel Allende
Youth by John Coetzee

Waiting by Ha Jin
Silk by Alessandro Baricco
Notes From The Hyena’s Belly by Nega Mezlekia
Crabwalk by Günter Grass
The Bell Jar by Silvia Plath
The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Remains Of The Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Fear And Trembling by Amelie Nothomb
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
Eve Green by Susan Fletcher
The Palace Tiger by Barbara Cleverly
The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Buddha Of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi
The Pickup by Nadine Gordimer

The Bookseller Of Kabul by Asne Seierstad
The God Of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Embers by Sandor Marai
Palace Of Desire by Naguib Mahfouz
Sugar Street by Naguib Mahfouz
I’m Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti
One Hundred Years Of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
In The Country Of Men by Hisham Matar
The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve

Staying On by Paul Scott
The Swallows Of Kabul by Yasmina Khadra
The Cairo House by Samia Serageldin
Keeping The World Away by Margaret Forster
The Speed Of Light by Javier Cercas
The Lady On My Left by Catherine Cookson
My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk
An Old Fashioned Arrangement by Susie Vereker
Tears Of The Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith

The Miniaturist by Kunal Basu
Mothers And Sons by Colm Toibin
The Blood Of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani
So Many Ways To Begin by Jon McGregor
The Agüero Sisters by Cristina Garcia
The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks
Half Of A Yellow Sun by Chimamanda N. Adiche
That Summer In Paris by Abha Dawesar
The Island by Victoria Hislop

Brick Lane by Monica Ali
The Harmony Silk Factory by Tash Aw
Girl With A Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
The Mission Song by John le Carré
The Conjuror’s Bird by Martin Davies
The Sea by John Banville
The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
26a by Diana Evans
The Road Home by Rose Tremain

Desert by Le Clézio
Any Place I Hang My Hat by Susan Isaacs
Rules of The Wild by Francesca Marciano
My Name is Salma by Fadia Faqir
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Allison Hoover Bartlett
Nadirs by Herta Müller
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
The Yacoubian Building by Alaa El Aswany
Crow Stone by Jenni Mills

The Other Hand (UK print) or Little Bee (USA print) by Chris Cleave. (Two different titles for the same novel depending on where you buy it).
The Siege by Ismail Kadare.
The Loner by Josephine Cox.
Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann.
Okei by Mitsugu Saotome.
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett / La couleur des sentiments / Gute Geister.
The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga / Le tigre blanc / Der Weisse Tiger.
My Father’s Notebook by Kader Abdolah / Cunéiforme / Die Geheime Schrift.

The Last Station by Jay Parini / Une année dans la vie de Tolstoi / Tolstojs Letztes Jahr.
The Invisible City by Emili Rosales / La ville invisible / Tiepolo und die Unsichtbare Stadt.
No Great Mischief by Alistair MacLeod / La perte et le fracas.
Illuminations by Eva Hoffman.
Sunset Oasis by Bahaa Taher / Oasis du couchant / Sonnenuntergangs Oase.
Ignorance by Milan Kundera / L’ignorance / Die Unwissenheit.
Light of the Moon by Luanne Rice.
Softcore by Tirdad Zolghadr.
The Musician’s Daughter by Susanne Dunlap.

Honour by Elif Shafak / Crime D’honneur.
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes / Des fleurs pour Algernon.
Three Strong Women by Marie NDiaye / Trois femmes puissantes.
Firmin by Sam Savage.
The Marseille Caper by Peter Mayle / Embrouille en Provence.
The Year Of The Hare by Arto Paasilinna / Le lièvre de Vatanen.
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain / Madame Hemingway.
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen / Amours et autres enchantements.
The Shadow Lines by Amitav Ghosh / Lignes d’ombres.

The Map Of Love by Ahdaf Soueif / Lady Pacha.
The Secret History Of Costaguana by Juan Gabriel Vasquez / Histoire secrète du Costaguana.
Night Train To Lisbon by Pascal Mercier / Train de nuit pour Lisbonne.
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.
The Hand That First Held Mine by Maggie O’Farrell / Cette main qui a pris la mienne.
The Way To Paradise by Mario Vargas Liosa / Le Paradis-un peu plus loin.
The Sweetest Dream by Doris Lessing / Le rêve le plus doux de Doris Lessing.
The Detour by Gerbrand Bakker / Le détour de Gerbrand Bakker.
Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson / La dernière conquête du major Pettigrew de Helen Simonson.

Coastliners by Joanne Harris / Voleurs de plage.
The Rock Of Tanios by Amin Maalouf / Le rocher de Tanios.
The Heart Of A Dog by Mikhail Boulgakov / Coeur de chien.
In Other Rooms, Other Wonders by Daniyal Mueenuddin / La saison des mangues introuvables.
The Sense Of An Ending by Julian Barnes / Une fille, qui danse.
Balzac And The Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie / Balzac et la petite tailleuse chinoise.
Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi / Le ravissement des innocents.
Accabadora by Michela Murgia.
Hanna’s Daughters by Marianne Fredriksson / Hanna et ses filles.

Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell / Epouser Mozart: Le roman des soeurs.
Please Look After Mother by Shin Kyung-Sook / Prends soin de maman.
Kartography by Kamila Shamsie / Kartographie.
All The Names by José Saramago / Tous les noms.
In The Skin Of A Lion by Michael Ondaatje / La peau d’un lion.
Moderato Cantabile by Marguerite Duras.
Behind The Scenes At The Museum by Kate Atkinson / Dans les coulisses du musée.
The Little Paris Bookshop By Nina George / La lettre oubliée.
The Masterpiece by Anna Enquist / Le chef-d’oeuvre.

The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds by Selina Siak Chin Yoke.
How It All Began by Penelope Lively.
The Heart Has Its Reasons by Maria Duenas / Demain à Santa Cecilia.
The Violinist Of Venice by Alyssa Palombo.
The Woman On The Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford.
The Briefcase by Hiromi Kawakami / Les années douces.
The Girl Who Saved The King Of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson / L’analphabète qui savait compter.
A Piece Of The World by Christina Baker Kline.
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan / Le club de la chance.

Luncheon Of The Boating Party By Susan Vreeland.
Good Me Bad Me by Ali Land / Le sang du monstre.
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles / Un gentleman à Moscou.
When The Future Comes Too Soon by Selina Siak Chin Yoke.
Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese.
A Man Called Ove by Frederik Backman / La vie selon Ove.



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