To Cecil: You are my biggest regret. When you drove me in your yellow BMW to the Alps near Geneva I knew I loved you dearly. When you slapped me softly on my cheek because I said I wanted to stay with you, you hurt me badly, even though you were right: you were engaged to marry. I had an on-and-off girlfriend but when I met you – and your sweet and funny sister – I knew you were the one. Then you said your father was only a train conductor. So what? OK, my dad was a beer brewer and my mother from nobility. But who cares? You were IT, and it would have been beautiful. For me, you were just the most beautiful and most lovely girl I ever met, and you had this great stamina and presence.
That’s why I wrote Ingrid the Magnificent Viking. Of course, it’s imagination of what could have been. But you are still in my mind. When I met you again at the coffee bar down at your Norwegian Embassy in Geneva, you seemed less happy than I would have thought, after your marriage. Well, I hope you had a beautiful life with lovely children, as you were the most beautiful girl I ever saw.
You will remember that tape with the Beach Boys, Good Vibrations. You loved that tune so much that I left it in your car.
I was at a diplomatic party in Geneva and they said, “We hear you are going to marry a Norwegian girl. Who is she?” I don’t know who spread the rumor. Maybe my boss did because he was Norwegian too. He naughtily told you I was “in love” with his secretary, but I was not. We liked each other, but not for life.
I wish I could have said, ” Yes, I am going to marry Cecil.” I would have learned to speak Norwegian. It can’t be more difficult than Dutch.
But you were already taken and I had to leave you behind.
Kiss-kiss, my dear: my greatest wish is to see you again before I die.
Your loving John
INGRID THE MAGNIFICENT VIKING : http://amzn.to/2jZf6Is
Oh! those beautiful swans! Ever listened to that wonderful Swan melody by Camille St. Saëns? It’s the core of the moving and heartbreaking story of Paul and Fiona, two lovebird musicians at the venerable College of William & Mary in Virginia – that beautiful State with the logo “Virginia is for Lovers!”- who form a duo in their last graduate year. Paul at the keyboard and Fiona playing cello. They fall in love when playing “The Swan.” And kiss for the first time on the famous Crim Dell Bridge in the W&M gardens.
And agree to get married after graduation. But then bad luck strikes and their future together seems doomed.
Fiona’s Belgian godparents who raised her – her parents perished while sailing off the Belgian coast when she was two – block the marriage because Paul is an American. She must marry a titled Belgian as her parents had wished, a nobleman and family friend she knew early on. When Paul lunches with Fiona at the Grand Place in Brussels, she tells him in tears she is forced to break up. Noblesse oblige…
Right: Bistrot Roi d’Espagne at the Grand Place
For Paul, it means a terrible psychological setback, for Fiona it means forsaking her love and hope of a life shared in playing classical music together.
Paul is offered a job in a bank in Geneva and takes the TGV.
but his life there is without light despite skiing and mountains. He falls for a selfish career girl. Then gets used by another in a bank fraud. His career seems doomed and he must return home. Through a sheer coincidence, he hears Fiona is back in the US and divorcing. A miraculous encounter at a house concert brings them back together, but Fiona is broken and has suffered severe abuse. Paul faces an uphill battle to win her back. As the trailer puts it, will they ever play the Swan again?
I wrote this book because I am a romantic, like Nicholas Sparks, or Barbara Bradford-Taylor; love romantic classical music, and adore W&M’s Department of Music. What this story tells is that luck is not a given and that it can be taken away from you; that you must fight to gain it back; that you must persevere; that you must learn to accept the changes that take place in your beloved and yourself. And that when you do all that, you may enjoy happiness again, but at a different level, one that is matured to accept life as it evolves.
What readers said about this story on Amazon.com:
MJM: “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.”
Dan: “John Schwartz has written a fine romantic thriller that doesn’t let go until the very end…”
Doris: “…I loved this book!…After only 3 chapters I was hooked…”
Neal: “…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…”
Vera: “Enjoyed the book. Well written book. First book to read by the author, but sure will read more books by him in the future…”
So, would you not want to read it, too, at the special e-book price of $2.99, or spoil yourself with a nice paperback?
Give yourself a chance!
Why should we be surprised that so many like this memoir/coming of age story? On a first Goodreads giveaway of only 2 books it got some 600 entries!
(If the links do not function- sorry, a WordPress Issue- kindly copy them into your browser/url)
Whose memoir starts off playing with Audrey when they were kids (she 13 and he 7) , only to discover ten years later that she has become a famous movie star winning an Oscar in Roman Holiday with the great Gregory Peck? I remember her from when she came to visit us during World War II when she lived near us in Arnhem at the house of her grandfather, Baron van Heemstra, with her mother and two stepbrothers. She told me she practiced for ballet at the Arnhem Conservatory. I drove her in my pony wagon but did not really know what she was talking about!
The Audrey picture above and the dancing one below are private pictures that nobody else has! I donated them to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund.
Thirty years later we met again in Geneva when she was an accomplished and widely acclaimed actress, with two great sons. Many people knew her then but few people knew her as a young, beautiful undiscovered star at age 13 (picture left).
Sam says: 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!
Get it at:
This may be the reason why so many want to read this story. But it’s not just Audrey. The other woman who till to-day, remains an anchor in my life is my grandmother, who appears in the book as “Lady D.” Who does not love their grandmother like the author does?
Sure everyone’s grandmother is something special! This one was, a Grand Dame who left an indelible mark on the author’s mind and soul. Many want to read it, thinking, yes, that’s how my grandmother was, too!
Then follow the heartwarming females that upset any young lad growing up!
And the first real love? That girl that knocks you of your socks when you are just 17?
Get it at: http://amzn.to/1QIL94B
If I told you that picture with the beloved girlfriend was taken in a heavily guarded Jesuit boarding school you would not believe it, but it’s TRUE.
Then that lovely pianist in Paris.
Paris upsets anyone’s love life. Hundreds of books and movies ballyhoo about it, and you don’t believe it until you get bitten yourself! That city does it to young people, especially if you speak its language of love, as I do. Imagined, dreamt of, hallucination, or wishful thinking, probably all of the above, turned me topsy-turvy. Everyone who went through the same experience, and many did, wants to compare with someone else’s experience, just to be able to say, yes! that’s how it felt! Yes, that’s how it was! And then to think that I and my adorable pianist ran into Sammy Davis in the Hermes store, getting his broad smiles and autographs on her shawl!
Get it at:
But the author ran into big troubles, too. Did anyone mess up because they met spider woman when they started their professional career? I did! Nothing more distressful then getting enamored by blond hair, artic blue eyes, a most enticing bright smile and a sexy seductress grabbing you by your….well you know what. Readers don’t want to miss that desperate episode. The author got out of it thanks to the blessing of his gods…oh boy, how that seductress could have destroyed his life…Remember that fabulous song “Here she comes! she is a Man Eater, Ho Ho Ho!?” Watch out!
And then he escapes to Switzerland, meets a loving woman but when the relationship sours because of differences in viewpoints and objectives in life, he breaks up once more, only to fall in love with a Norwegian Viking on the skis slopes that ends up in tears on both sides.
Ach! How difficult young life is. Loving and living love and it never stays the way it is. Why does it have to be that way?
Dan Dwyer 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. This latest work, Some Women I Have Known, talks as much about the man himself growing up amount the fairer sex, which he learns almost too late in life has a decisive advantage over a man too eager to find life’s companion.
Get it at:
And so the deep sufferer left for Africa. Only a desperado would do that. But he got mesmerized by a dark figure, a magnificent African woman, strolling on a hill who wanted something from him. No, not sex, not earning money to give her beauty away. She wanted freedom, away from mistreatment, longing for the moment she could employ her talents, flying away to unsurpassed heights, dislodge herself from imprisonment in a suffocating society, forced marriage and abusive treatment. A beautiful bird from the jungle, begging to be let loose from its cage to spread its wings and shoot out to heaven.
I don’t think I can ever forget Nyira, ever. I don’t know where she is now, what finally happened to her when I got her out, but she did get her chance to live a better life and she did.
And that’s the moment where young minds settle and reach some sort of maturity. It’s what they call coming-of-age. We all go through that one way or another. The only thing this author can say is that he was damn lucky he did not fall between the cracks. He finally met the woman he felt comfortable with. The opposite of what he had imagined.
I think this is the element why so many want to read this love story. It’s out on Amazon. com, Kindle e-book, paperback and hardcover. Don’t miss out on these stories, they inspired me to write them, and they will inspire you when you read them.
SOME WOMEN I HAVE KNOWN – MEMOIR AND ROMANCE
KIRKUS REVIEW; “A WISTFUL MEMOIR…“
AMAZON.COM KINDLE, PAPERBACK AND HARDCOVER.
THREE THINGS INSPIRED ME WHEN WRITING ENCHANTING THE SWAN: ROMANCE, LOVE FOR MUSIC AND MUSIC IN LOVE. IN SHORT: FOREVER ROMANCE:
HERE IS THE TRAILER: https://youtu.be/8vHdGKGWQEo
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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.
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. They play it also at the Graduation Ceremony!
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.”
What does VT Mom say: I loved this book! I had not read a novel in several years. After only 3 chapters I was hooked. I live in Virginia so I was very familiar with the college where Paul and Fiona met. Very impressed with the author and his attention to detail. Hope he writes many more.
And Vera: Enjoyed the book. Well written book. First book to read by the author, but sure will read more of books by him in the future. They seem to click and make beautiful music, have plans for the future when graduate, but when go by her place she has now gone. Not even a word to Paul. Seems like wishes of her Godparents are more important. A very heartbreaking love story. How can every thing seem so right, and now so wrong?
And MJOrlean: 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.
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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.
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
Paul skiing in Swiss Alps
Last time I met John van Dorn, he told me the following love story:
After two months of grueling boot camp, I was on two weeks’ leave at my grandmother’s house. Late in the morning, still suffering from yesterday’s long drill march, I was sound asleep in my attic room, my coverlet pushed aside.
Vaguely I heard knocking on my door. It opened before I had a chance to call out that I was still in bed. Only half awake, I lay with a firm morning erection appearing through my pajamas. Tisja, the beautiful young help in the house, just about my age, who’d been with us for a few years, innocently stepped in to clean up my room. She broke into laughter when she saw my fierce masculine weapon pointing in her direction.
I felt awkward. I’d always been told to be gallant to the help in the house while keeping my distance. Tisja was sort of family and a good friend, but I’d never thought of approaching her sexually because getting close to a servant was “not done” according to the family code. But the rules in the book didn’t prescribe what to do when an attractive servant catches you with your physical pride protruding upfront.
I smiled back at her clumsily, pulling up my bed sheet. Suddenly, her sparkling eyes turned dark and took on a velvety glossy look.
“Johnny,” she hushed, “if you want, why not come to my room one night?”
She darted away, perhaps shocked by her own words, and left me in confusion, which grew into a thick ball of desire.
It took a day before I found the courage to act on her suggestion. My body wanted it and at eighteen, fresh from boarding school, after my sad farewell from Lucy, I was still a virgin. Her room was next to mine; we were the only ones sleeping in the attic. But would my matriarchal management not hear the wooden floors squeaking when I sneaked to her room in the middle of the night? Wouldn’t they hear the thumping of the bed?
I found her alone in the kitchen and helped her with the dishwashing, standing close to her.
“I think it would be better on a Sunday morning when everyone’s gone to church,” I whispered to her. ”I’ll pretend I’m sick. What do you think? Will you be here this weekend? It’s still my furlough.”
“Yes, good idea,” she said, smiling. “This weekend I’ve duty. Jane’s off. And they don’t have breakfast before church so I can sleep in.”
When Sunday morning came, I acted as if I had belated stomach pains from the army food, and my mother allowed me to stay in bed. Matriarchal management went to church. As soon as I heard the taxi drive away, I scooted to Tisja’s room, opened her door and peeped in.
She was lying in bed, a sheet simulating the enticing sculpture of her body. “Hi,” she said, smiling. “Come in.”
I entered her room on my toes, still scared someone might hear me. The windows were open and looked out, like mine, on the majestic oak tree, slowly waving in the warm late summer breeze, blowing in scents of jasmine and lavender. The doves were cooing. I stood beside her bed, not sure what to do.
“Come, lie with me,” she said, calmly sliding the sheet from her body. Boy… she was almost completely naked. “Take off your pajamas.”
She looked like the mermaid statue I’d seen in the Efteling Theme Park, so delightful and pure. I dropped my pajamas and joined her, timid. But when her slender body touched mine, everything changed in my life.
I gazed at her lively eyes, soft dark hair and nice round shoulders, touched her breasts, nipples, drawing in whiffs of her peachy perfume. I wanted to make love to her, but wasn’t sure how. To help me on the way, Tisja caressed my sex, which got stiff as a broom.
“Is this your first time?” she asked, stroking my hair.
“Yes,” I admitted, feeling silly.
“Don’t be afraid,” she said.” I have something in me to stop babies.”
She kissed me, fondled me, held me, and made me gently enter her. It was such a warm feeling. She begged me to get deeper and deeper, shifted my hand from her shoulder to her breast, made me rub her nipple and I felt it hardening. I kept pushing, urged by the instincts of nature and the increasing delight of the warm fluids that surrounded my sex while she was arching up to me. After some time, she yelped, sighed and I felt her heart pounding. As I hadn’t come yet, she fondled me, and I erupted in her with a flush of splashing sparks shooting right to the top of my brain, leaving me breathless.
“How did you like it?” she whispered in my ear.
I didn’t know what to say. “Nice feeling,” I said, “and you?”
She laughed but didn’t answer. We chatted a while about me and her boyfriend Tommy as we were both drafted in the army.
“When are you going to marry him?” I asked.
“I don’t know. I’m not ready yet to make that decision, but my parents want me to. There are so many things I can do with my life before getting babies. It’s nice at grandma’s house, but I’d like to do something more. Go to a school for secretaries as your mother said.”
“I’m sure my mother will help you and talk to your parents. She knows them so well.”
I kissed her on her lips and stroked her hair. I hoped that the dogs outside would bark to warn us that the church goers were back.
“Want to do it again?” she asked.
“Yes, why not, I’m sure you can.”
She fondled me and we kissed. More confident, I stroked her breasts, her tummy, and inner legs, and we made love again. It took a bit longer, but Tisja wanted it badly. She moved her pelvis up and down, holding me tight by my buttocks and I moved with her rhythm. She came again before me and then again, till it was finally my turn.
She puffed, mumbling she was dead, and so was I. We slept for a few minutes in each other’s arms. I woke up worried about the time, but counted on the dogs barking when the churchgoers got home.
I pushed the sheet away and looked at her body. She had a nice flat tummy with a silky patch of black pubic hair.
“You’re so beautiful,” I said.
“You too,” she said, her hand cupping my penis that had shrunk to a harmless little tube. “I looked at you walking naked to the bathroom and when you were sunbathing on the balcony below with your pants off, naughty boy. I wanted you all the time.”
Footsteps on the stairs. Blast!
What was happening? The dogs hadn’t barked. Who could that be? My mother coming to see how her sick sonny was doing? I jumped out of Tisja’s bed and hid in her closet amidst her dresses, closing the door behind me, holding it tight. Then I realized that I’d left my pajamas on the floor. I heard knocking. Oh hell….
“Tisja, good morning, it’s Jane. Can I come in?”
Damn Jane, you were supposed to be off!
“Sure,” Tisja answered, making the sound of a yawn.
I heard Jane coming in.
“You’re still in bed?” Jane sounded surprised. “Tommy called he wanted to see you this afternoon.”
Geez, Tommy, her boyfriend. If he knew…
“I said okay,” she continued. “I’ll cover for you. Whose pajamas are those?”
“Yes, those pajamas.”
“Oh, Johnny’s, he threw them out of his room to wash, you know, the slob, and I picked them up this morning on my way back from the bathroom.”
Good excuse, I mumbled, keeping the closet door tight, though I felt hurt about the “slob” part.
“But I heard he was sick,” Jane said
“Is he still in bed?” Jane kept asking.
“Would I know? We don’t do cleaning on Sundays.”
“Tisja, you’d better get up and get the coffee ready. The ladies will soon be home. I’ll do the service. Go and see Tommy.”
“Thank you, Jane, very nice of you.”
I heard Jane leaving, but didn’t hear her going down the stairs. She was probably taking a peep in my bedroom. I heard her coming back, knocking on the door again. I kept holding on to Tisja’s closet door for life, fearing the worst.
“I’m not ready yet, Jane,” Tisja answered, splashing at the sink.
“You know where Johnny is?”
“Not a clue, why would I know what that silly lad’s doing?”
Don’t overdo it now, Tisja….
“He’s not in his bed.”
“Maybe he’s in the toilet doing you know what or he went to play tennis.”
“If he’s sick?”
“I don’t follow his footsteps, Jane. I’ll be right down, just a minute.”
I heard Jane going downstairs and shortly after that Tisja rapped on the closet.
“Jane’s gone,” she whispered, and left her room.
I waited a minute to be sure no one was in the attic anymore and slid out of Tisja’s closet, but didn’t see my pajamas. Of course, Tisja must’ve taken them down as proof she’d picked them up to be washed.
My heart stopped when there was more stumbling on the stairs. Stark naked, I could only cover myself with Tisja’s bed sheet. Better than nothing. Wrapping it quickly around my waist, I skedaddled like a bat out of hell to my bedroom. The attic door opened just as I dove into my bed. I pushed Tisja’s sheet underneath mine and tried to keep a suffering face. But I knew I was playing a losing game.
My dear mother came in.
“Johnny, why did you come flying out of Tisja’s room?”
“Out of Tisja’s room? I didn’t, I knocked to see if she had aspirin, but she wasn’t in.”
“Jane said she was there just a minute ago.”
“Really? Not when I knocked on her door.”
“And she’d seen your pajamas on the floor in her room. What’s been going on? I want to talk to you downstairs. Get dressed. You aren’t sick at all.”
“But I am!”
She left, slamming the door, clearly suspicious about my alternative use of Sunday church time.
I shaved, bathed and got dressed, put Tisja’s sheet back on her bed and drooped down the stairs, aware I’d have to face the music. But I was determined to stick to my story.
The matriarchal management had grouped on the veranda for coffee, as usual after Sunday church, enjoying the late summer weather and the view of grandmother’s colorful roses. Jane brought out the coffee, dispensing its addictive aroma. I avoided her eyes. Tisja’d gone off to her Tommy.
“Jane, what’s been going on with Tisja this morning?” my grandmother blurted out.
“I don’t know, madam,” Jane stammered.
“Jane?” she pressed.
“Well, she wasn’t up yet when I went to her room.”
“When was that?”
Grandmother squinted at me. “Johnny, were you still in bed at that time?”
“Yes,” I said, which was true, although it was not mine but Tisja’s bed.
“What’s this story about Johnny’s pajamas, Jane?” Oma was about to uncover my white lie.
“Tisja said she’d picked them up outside his bedroom, where he’d left them to be washed,” she said, embarrassed.
“That’s true, Oma,” I butted in. “I’d sweated all night from the stomach flu. I was soaking wet, so I dropped them outside my bedroom, as I always do with my laundry. I don’t understand why you all are making such a big fuss about my pajamas.”
“We wouldn’t if I hadn’t seen you spurting from Tisja’s room naked with a sheet around your bottom,” my mother said coolly.
“What would I do naked in Tisja’s room? I told you, I wanted aspirin and because I’d thrown out my pajamas, I had nothing else but my bed sheet for cover….”
“It all sounds like a twisted story, soldier,” grandmother intoned like my commander-in-chief. “All right, Jane, you can go now, thanks for filling in for Tisja.”
“You sleep down in the guest room from now on,” my mother ordained, puncturing any hopes of a repeat. “We don’t want people talking in the village.”
“But what about, Mother?”
They had no solid proof, just vague unsubstantiated hunches. I knew Tisja was smart enough to talk herself out of trouble. Grinning, I got up, went to the grand piano, lifted the flap, sat down and imitated Errol Garner’s jazz tune Avalon.
Read more of this in “Some Women I Have Known.”
and about Frank in “A Naughty Romance.”