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ENCHANTING CHRISTMAS WITH AUDREY HEPBURN

Audrey Hepburn 1 Paul skiing on Swiss Alps

The Christmas and New Year period is a great time to read or gift a few heartwarming stories to suit the holidays!

ENCHANTING THE SWAN ends at Christmas, a moving end which I will not give away here. You can read the novel at http://amzn.to/1LPFw5o and at http://bit.ly/1Kw8gys (Barnes & Noble). Consistent 5 star reviews so far: Dan Dwyer comments: If you like old fashioned romance stories, you will like Enchanting The Swan. Paul and Fiona meet at the College of William and Mary in Virginia where they fall in love after playing “The Swan” by Camille Saint-Saens. There’s more to this story than Dewey eye romance. John Schwartz has written a fine romantic thriller than doesn’t let go until the very end.

Neal Cary, professor and cellist at William & Mary, writes: Enchanting the Swan is a beautiful story — full of suspense, drama, and enduring love centered around music. John Schwartz has created a whole world, and a wonderful escape. The characters jump off the page with such personality and imagery that this book could make a great movie. Enchanting the Swan is a very enjoyable read, and I recommend it highly.

MJM Orlean writes: John writes beautifully – I found the book difficult to put down – an easy read, full of intrigue, love, passion, international travel and dubious banking business, and lots more – a must read.

 

Enchanting-cover

You can still get it for a good read at the fire place: http://amzn.to/1LPFw5o

or at http://bit.ly/1Kw8gys. ENJOY!

SOME WOMEN I HAVE KNOWN is  a memoir /coming-of-age story.  Our unforgettable Audrey Hepburn was a central personality in our home and especially for me, as we met as children (she 13 and I 7 ) in Holland well before she became a beautiful and revered film star.  Of course, our lives became very different and I only touched hers at her outer sphere, but she did remember me! It is one of the more striking stories in SOME WOMEN I HAVE KNOWN.

Some-Women Audrey

You can still get it at http://amzn.to/1QIL94B

Readers seem to like it: Sam writes: This is a heartwarming collection of short stories that portray the path of boy meets world with realism and sensitivity. Perhaps most surprising are the different relationships that each story portrays – some were romantic, while others were more familial or close friendships. Those qualities, combined with the historical backdrop and international perspective, distinguish this book from the more typical and predictable storylines, making it a five-star read!

Kendal writes about the Audrey story: I adore Audrey Hepburn and love to hear new stories about her. Can’t get enough. And this short story was a nice little peek into her life, especially pre-fame, as a young girl… loved it.

Micah Harris writes in similar terms: A pleasant account of an exceptional person. There’s always something poignant about beautiful people recovering from ghastly times. Thanks for the read.

Dan writes: I had read the author’s vignette on Audrey Hepburn a few months ago when I was looking for something short, different and personal because my daughter is a big Hepburn fan. Mr. Schwartz did not fail me then nor has he failed me now with his compilation of the women he has met in his life…One charming and not so charming adventure after another, however, ended the same way until he finally met the proverbial woman of his dreams. She luckily for both shared the same dream.

And how did we!

Learning to drink coconut water at the beach near Berbize

 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and pleasant holidays!

John and Joy

 

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ALL THESE WOMEN!

John 2  Cover

 

Yes, that’s how one writer friend reacted when reading the manuscript of SOME WOMEN I HAVE KNOWN – http://amzn.to/1QIL94B (If the link does not function, which often happens with WordPress.org, simply paste it into your url). My writing friend, was he jealous? Perhaps!

What made me write that book? Clairaudience, clairvoyance, clairsentience in the Library of the Maarten Maartens House in Holland, during a family reunion in 2002. As infidels in the medium-world, my cousin Anne and I did not believe we were in trance with Maarten Maartens, our Great-Uncle Joost Schwartz, who wrote so many novels and short stories in English that made him famous in the USA and the UK at the turn of the 19th/20th century. Under the pen name of Maarten Maartens. But we were! He died in 1915, leaving a wealth of literature behind: 13 published novels and four collections of short stories, plays, poems and even a detective story, the first ever written in Holland.

One short story collection was entitled Some Women I Have Known. Uncle Joost whispered: “Write your own!” And indeed, Anne and I decided to write our own “Some Women”, in memoriam of our Uncle Joe. When the trance dissolved, we looked at each other and laughed. When we told some hundred family members and guests, they laughed too: “Hah! You will never do that! All talk, no doing!”

Anne and John at lunch

Unfortunately, Anne passed away before we got underway. The project seemed doomed. But Uncle Joost kept working on me. You have to write your version, he kept telling me. And, I did as he did: I began by writing ten short stories about some of the women I had known and found important enough  to commemorate, from my early years on. Then I turned the short stories into a memoir/coming-of-age novel, giving the narrator a fictitious name: John van Dorn, to create some distance from myself.

The novel starts with Audrey Hepburn,  who came to play at my grandparents residence where I stayed on vacation, as a 13-year old girl when I was 7. She lived close by us, near Arnhem, during World War II, with her mother, Aunt Ella, her mother’s sister,  her two half-brothers (who were taken prisoner by the Nazis but later found alive). They stayed in the house of her grandfather, Baron van Heemstra, formerly the mayor of Arnhem. We could, of course, not imagine she would become a wonderful film star ten years later. And I did not know I would meet her again much later in life.

young audrey

Lady Audrey

Young Audrey at about 13  and a few years later taking ballet lessons in Arnhem, around 1947 (family pictures).

Audrey Hepburn 5

Audrey, when she was 21 modeling in London, in 1950/51, acting in cabarets, not yet “discovered”. A picture given to me by her mother that stood on our grand piano at home.

The novel continues with my funny adventures with two Anns during my early years of puberty, testing the waters with the other sex.

two-anns

The next chapter is about my grandmother,  “Lady D,” who left an indelible impression on me and whose wisdom and personality guided me through life. I like that chapter because people who knew her will recognize her manifold qualities as a wonderful human being  who stood out above many.

Lady D

“Lady D”

The novel continues with my boarding school time when I, as a piano player, got to know a lovely cellist and started making music with her, a story that may surprise those who remember Catholicism in the nineteen-fifties because it took place at a time of strict Jesuit discipline that forbade any contact with the other sex!

John en Marijke  Lucy

My picture with the charming cellist taken by two courageous friends in the lobby of the boarding school. A most risky undertaking!

Then my naughty story about Tisja the Village Beauty, the seductive help in the house who became my “first” when I was serving in the army. Oh boy, the pitfalls of growing up!

Tisja and John

I skipped the girls in my student time. One remains a painful memory, too painful to describe. It imploded during a brief but intense and emotional love affair with student pianist Geneviève at a Paris conservatorium.

GenevièveFrom that adventure I returned brokenhearted to Holland to take on my first job and, vulnerable as I was, fell into the hands of a smart but destructive beauty. Irene Femme Fatale, I called her.

Irene

I am so thankful to the gods for having saved me from her tentacles. Why are males so naïve? Our libido, the male’s most dangerous flaw! Female scorpions kill their mates after the fun. In the case of us male humans, we fall into the trap, kill her before she kills us, or keep paying alimony for the rest of our life and even from our coffin after it’s over.  OMG!

I fled Holland to take a job in Geneva, Switzerland. I thought I had found a marvelous girlfriend there. We shared some beautiful and passionate years until it broke on philosophy of life. Then it did not work out in my job either. It was boring, and I wanted a change. I think it was mutual. To  sooth my losses, I went skiing but got lost in the woods. I almost froze to death. In half-delirium, I found my way back to my lodge and ran into that magnificent Viking, by pure accident.

Ingrid

Ingrid and I spent some wonderful days together, but again, it was not to be. Out of pure frustration, I took a job in Central Africa and swore to stay out of the female tentacles. In Burundi I met a Tutsi woman refugee, and you really have to read the story to know what happened!

Nyira

Purified from all my failures, I took a job with the World Bank in Washington D.C., where I finally met the woman who brought me love and peace.

John married to Joy (1974)

I personally feel that my version of Some Women I Have Known is a good read. We all live different lives but encounter similar moments. Several good 5 star reviews on Amazon.com attest to that.

Read it all in

http://amzn.to/1QIL94B,

Kindle or Paperback, and enjoy it with a cappuccino in the morning or a brandy in the evening.

By the way, the cute and stylish cover designs of the short stories are by Melanie Stephens of Willow Manor Publishing in Fredericksburg Virginia (www.willowmanorpublishing.com), who also published the novel.

———

PS:  Don’t forget my novel Enchanting The Swan we showed last week: also a perfect Christmas gift!http://amzn.to/1LPFw5o

Enchanting-cover

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ROMANCING ENCHANTING THE SWAN

John 2Bois de Boulogne

THREE THINGS INSPIRED ME WHEN WRITING ENCHANTING THE SWAN: ROMANCE, LOVE FOR MUSIC AND MUSIC IN LOVE. IN SHORT: FOREVER ROMANCE:

http://amzn.to/1LPFw5o

(If the link does not function just cc it into your URL)

Don’t take me wrong:  it is not only love that makes the world go round:  pigheaded ultraconservative family rules preventing a SHINING love blossoming from the heart and conceived in music, GREED versus compassion, JEALOUS PURSUIT to snatch away someone else’s love, ABUSE IN MARRIAGE, desperate escape and FINAL REDEMTPION in music: it’s  all in ENCHANTING THE SWAN, a love story as no other.

(LEFT CLICK ON PICS WILL ENLARGE THEM ON MOST COMPUTERS. BACKSPACE TOP LEFT TAKES YOU BACK TO THE BLOG)

cover idea

Paul Cramer, MBA graduate and Fiona Baroness de Maconville, cellist, play The Swan, a famous cello-piece by Camille St. Saëns, before their William & Mary Audience. That’s where their love bloomed: at the Department of Music in the Ewell Hall, located at the College of William & Mary, situated in rustic Williamsburg, Virginia.

Neal Cary, Professor and cellist teacher at the College of William & Mary, writes about Enchanting The Swan: “…a beautiful story — full of suspense, drama, and enduring love centered around music. John Schwartz has created a whole world, and a wonderful escape. The characters jump off the page with such personality and imagery that this book could make a great movie. Enchanting the Swan is a very enjoyable read, and I recommend it highly.”

http://amzn.to/1LPFw5o

(If the link does not function just cc it into your URL)

Enchanting Cover Design-a   Enchanting Back flap pic

As you see from the back flap, the beginning of their love seems doomed in a bitter family feud of old stiff Belgian nobility with modern times. Fiona, an orphan raised by godparents after her parents died sailing into a storm at the Belgian coast, must break off because her noble godfather wants her to marry into their Belgian circle. At a heartbreaking lunch in a restaurant at the Grand Place in Brussels, The Roi d’Espagne (right on the photograph) she tells Paul she can’t marry him.

Roi restaurant Gr-Place

Paul joins a financial postgraduate course at the Free University of Brussels for a few weeks in the hope Fiona and her godparents change their mind, but eventually must capitulate, and when offered a promising internship at First Swiss Bank in Geneva he takes it. And off he goes, heartbroken,  not knowing this step leads him into lots of trouble. Read the story in http://amzn.to/1LPFw5o

Paris, Gare de Lyon: People with luggage walking to their train.
TGV
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Paul’s Office

Paul skiing on Swiss Alps

Paul skiing in Swiss Alps

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Facing the Mont Blanc from the Dole near Geneva with devilish Diane

After a disastrous career start-up in Geneva, Paul returns to New York where he finds to his consternation Fiona in utter disarray, divorcing after an abusive marriage.

What did Dan Dwyer say of this novel? “…If you like old fashioned romance stories, you will like Enchanting The Swan…She marries into nobility while Paul trudges off to the same continent to work for a Swiss bank where he gets involved with another woman whose lack of scruples gets him in trouble. No sooner does he extricate himself than he finds out that Fiona is unhappy in her marriage. That’s all Paul needs to know. Fate and friends conspire to bring them together, but not so fast. There’s more to this story than Dewey eye romance. John Schwartz has written a fine romantic thriller than doesn’t let go until the very end. “

New York Skyline at sunset

Will Paul and Fiona ever get together again and play their Swan?

Find out for an intriguing Christmas end and snatch it at http://amzn.to/1LPFw5o

 

two swan in love forming

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