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!”
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. She came to play at my grandparents’ residence where I stayed on vacation during 1943, in the middle of World War II. She was 13 and I was 7, and her last name was not “Hepburn” yet, but Ruston, her father’s name. She lived close by us, near Arnhem, 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 at about 13 and a few years later taking ballet lessons in Arnhem, around 1947 (family pictures).
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
From 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.
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 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!
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.
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
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
THREE THINGS INSPIRED ME WHEN WRITING ENCHANTING THE SWAN: ROMANCE, LOVE FOR MUSIC AND MUSIC IN LOVE. IN SHORT: FOREVER ROMANCE:
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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.
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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.”
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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
To get rid of his sour mind and keep his sanity, Paul plays piano at the Salle Delveau in the “Cité”. He is lucky that a guest speaker at his investment course is impressed with his mathematical skills and offers him a job at the Geneva branch of First Swiss Bank. So, deeply hurt Paul travels to Geneva with the TGV to start his career, completely the opposite of what he had hoped for with Fiona in New York.
View of the Mont Blanc from the Dôle on the Swiss Jura near Geneva where Diane gives Paul her bombshell.
A hasty departure for New York follows after Paul completes his internship successfully and, despite all what happened, with distinction. He is transferred to First Swiss Bank in New York in a managerial position.
And then by sheer coincidence he meets the son of Fiona’s aunt at an office party, who tells him Fiona is in New York, shattered by an abusive relationship and divorcing! They meet at a house concert at Fiona’s aunt…can they put humpty-dumpty back together again or not? A long struggle that ends up with a loud shot!
NOW YOU HAVE A CHANCE TO READ THIS STORY TOO!
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Why are we surprised? Whose memoir starts off with 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 mostly remember her from these two encounters and when she trained in Arnhem, Holland, for ballet, shortly after World War Two. And the Audrey picture above and the dancing one below are private pictures that nobody else has! (The originals were donated to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund). If you click on the pictures most computers will enlarge them. Click back on the picture to get back to the Blog.
Who in his life can claim he met Audrey again 30 years later when she is an accomplished and widely acclaimed actress, with two great sons? Many people knew her and met her, few people knew her as a young, beautiful undiscovered young girl!
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!
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This may be the reason why so many want to read this story. But it’s not just Audrey, it’s the other women too, not all that famous but heartwarming females that upset any young lad growing up! 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 as a matter of comparison, thinking, yes, that’s how my grandmother was, too!
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.
Who says that Paris does not upset anyone’s love life? Hundreds of books and movies ballyhoo about it, and you don’t believe it until you get bitten yourself! I am not sure how that city does it to young people, especially if you speak its language of love, as I did, if it is imagined, dreamt of, hallucination, or wishful thinking, or all of the above, but it turned me upside down. 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!
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But I 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 he was too young to appreciate and breaks up once more, all 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 should be. 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.
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And so the deep sufferer left for Africa. Only a desperado would do that. But he got mesmerized by a dark figure, a magnificent black woman, strolling on a hill and she 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, never. 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 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 into the cracks. He finally met the woman he felt comfortable with. The opposite of what he started out with.
I think this is the element why so many want to read this love story. It’s out on Amazon. com, e-book and paperback. Don’t miss out on these stories, they inspired me to write them, and they will inspire you to read them.
SOME WOMEN I HAVE KNOWN – MEMOIR AND ROMANCE
KIRKUS REVIEW; “A WISTFUL MEMOIR…“
AMAZON.COM AND PAPERBACK
This is the new perspective of ENCHANTÉ. We will write about love and loving things, inspiring books, inspiring authors, inspiring people, period. With ENCHANTING THE SWAN out on the shelves and in the CLOUDS, we will leave the field of satire, annoying politics, and shameful and cruel behavior in the world. After all, I am an alien (“from Mars” not “Venus”), and have no vote. And I am a romantic, not a warrior.
The story of Paul and Fiona is harrowing enough. This is the weekend that Enchanting is launched. Many of us remember the loves we lost, either because we were stupid, or the loved one was, or we both were, and how hard it was to put humpty-dumpty back together again, if at all, or to find another person we felt excited about. There is something to say in favor of “arranged marriages.” A hard act to balance for the parents and loved ones concerned, but at least the youngster does not face the situation he or she won’t find a person they could like and stays single, still looking out for what is not there.
Well, for Paul and Fiona, breaking up is a hard decision, because it all looked so beautiful, so promising after they found each other in the enticing melodies of love at the College of William & Mary. Making music together seemed heaven and then boom! Her wicked godparents put a spoke in the merry wheel.
For Paul it is like being shoved onto the wild sea in a shaky dingy. Where other women are plenty but dangerous territory. And no sharing of music. For Fiona it is even worse. She engages in an arranged marriage, which proves hell. Only to abide by the wishes of her deceased parents to marry some Belgian nobleman. Here the arranged marriage definitely and miserably failed.
I have not seen many love stories where music plays such a major role. When I search in Publishers Weekly, or similar search engines, nothing comes up when I enter love and music. Enchanting the Swan must be rather unique then.
The story formed in my mind when I looked back on my life in which I failed myself to secure the wealth of music and love. Somehow it was not given to me. I lost out on it while meeting a lovely cellist at boarding school and later in Paris when I had my adventure with the adorable pianist (Some Women I Have Known http://amzn.to/1QIL94B ). Then music faded in my life, and I could never regain it. It slipped away.
Though written in the first person, Enchanting The Swan is not a memoir. It is pure fiction. First person in this story suited its structure, so it was a deliberate choice of writing style. My next stories will be in the third person, because it allows a deeper development of the principal character and greater freedom in point of view.
The girl to whom it is dedicated, Fioen, is a relic of my young youth when she gave me that little kiss in the vegetable yard of their lovely country house, because she loved me and I loved her. I think we were both six years old. I do remember it was a beautiful feeling and how utterly destroyed I was when I heard ten years later she died in a terrible accident while riding her horse driven wagon, and a car ran into them in front of their house. It threw me off for years. I still remember her. I still see her in my memory, standing close to me. I still feel the kiss. I still love her and miss her somehow, like a dream I can’t forget.
Some of the tragedies that Fiona and Paul experience in their young life will not be strange to many people. Both are real life, and so is the music that saved them.
If you like to read a harrowing but heartwarming love story, you can get it at Amazon and Barnes & Noble by clicking as below, in Kindle, Nook or paperback.
Have a pleasant read,