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!
Peace of mind is a dire good. It can disappear as quickly as it comes. One day your finance is great, the next day it may be ruined. One night your romance is indelible, the next morning it may be in smithereens. Why can peace of mind not last? I am sure you remember when you enjoyed peace of mind and it suddenly collapsed into a nervous breakdown.
I remember whenever it did. It’s not just the occasional ups and downs. They cancel out when you have basic peace of mind. It’s the complete and often unexpected blow that shatters it to pieces. The loss of a dear friend, a parent, the pink slip in your job, a sudden incurable illness, the break-up of a marriage, an engagement, a love affair that offered hopes…so many things that harshly interfere with life.
I remember each time when it hit. In my case, it was mostly broken love affairs. That could really bother me for a long time. Occasionally, job tensions as well. Some people are horrible to work with and you still have to get along, watching each moment you won’t get stabbed in the back. Technical problems can always be solved, but humans!
How to get it back? I have tried everything, from praying to Prozac to Lorazepam, to swallowing tumblers full of scotch, to jumping in a cold lake. But that last idea would not work out so well. I was too good a swimmer.
Once you acquire enough money and a stable marriage later in life, you seem to have reached that wonderful peace of mind. It takes a long time and a little bit of luck. Some never reach it and become desperate. If you do, seek some help wherever you can. And when you are asked to help, give it with both hands. A helping hand can do wonders. I have seen it several times: a wrecked life can be turned around.
In my last blog, I mused about how the writer’s point of view is molded by a world of seven billion different people. I don’t think a writer can write without peace of mind, at least I can’t. It is an individual’s asset, to be closely guarded. If you have it, you are very rich. Money can make things easier, but without peace of mind, its value is pretty hollow. Peace of mind you cannot buy, or sell. Much of it depends on early decisions in life and the stamina you are gifted with to withstand obstruction, conflict or bad luck. Eventually, light shines at the end of the tunnel. I know it’s easy to say for me when you are in the dump, but it’s true: keep that in mind in your journey to reach peace of mind: it is there!