Time for a little advertising in between blogs!
ENCHANTÉ has issued 6 Short stories so far, all represented on the right, under the banner “Some Women I Have Known.” I borrowed this title from my Great Uncle Joost van der Poorten Schwartz (1858-1915), who wrote some 17 books in the English language, mostly in the nineteenth century, and his “Some Women”, though more “Victorian” in concept than the ones I met, is still a good read.
I – The Audrey story is a Memoir of how 13-year old Audrey Hepburn entered my life when I was seven. I had wanted to write this story for a long time and finally did. Her son Sean Hepburn Ferrer found it “sweet” and sweet it is. She had an indelible impact on my life, as I could never have guessed she would become so famous and well liked the world over.
II – The Two Anns memorize first loves, seen from a young male’s adventurous POV (point of view). There are many women I have met and forgotten, but you never forget your first loves. It would have been interesting to know how these first loves remember me and if they ever wrote that on paper.
III – Lucy The Cello Girl got me hooked for life with her bow, phrasing heavenly music from her instrument, when I met her in the basement of my boarding school. A lover of classical music, I fell for her instantly, but young love has its tragic moments of inexperience, immaturity and doubts, and it took many years to come to fruition.
IV – Tisja The Village Beauty is the naughty story about how Peter loses his virginity. I guess nobody forgets that moment in their life. It’s worth remembering and I had a good laugh writing it up.
V – Geneviève The Adorable Pianist pictures the classical Love in Paris. Many loves in Paris populate books and movies, but each one is different and this one is no exception. Even today, soaps return to the Eifel Tower, Trocadero, the river the Seine and the Ile de France. For all its picturesque flavor, Paris remains a pitfall for amour. This one got started while playing quatre mains at the piano at the famous Ecole normale de musique, “mains” that got closer and closer and… well, you read the rest.
VI – Irene Femme Fatale is the eternal refrain of young libido gone haywire and ending in predictable disaster. Women are smarter than man, because they got that superior gift of nature to lure the male into the dangerous act of procreation and… you better watch out.
VII – Lady D is a Memoir of the quintessential grandmother. Some people are greater than others, and she is one of those rare people. Yes, at one stage they pass away and go to heaven, but they live on never to be forgotten, staying at your side throughout life.
Two more stories are in the pipeline: September: Ingrid The Magnificent Viking, about a goddess met on the ski slopes in the Swiss Alps at a moment of great distress that turns into even greater distress; and October: Nyira, The Tutsi Queen, reliving the harrowing memory of a narrow escape from tribal persecution and hatred in the central African region of Rwanda and Burundi.
The short stories are published for Amazon.com by Willow Manor Publishing in Fredericksburg in Virginia, and the cover designs are the product of Melanie Stephens of the same company.
They are available on Amazon.com for Kindle reading at the ridiculous price of 99 dollar cents or there about depending where you are. Get them for an easy read during Labor Day Weekend! If you do, give a review, if you can, by clicking on the story’s review link on Amazon.com. It’s simple and won’t cost you more than a few minutes of your time.
Lastly, my romantic novel “Enchanting The Swan” is in the final stage and may be published in the not too distant future.
The few photographs in the short story – link on the right – were given to me by Audrey’s mother in the fifties when I met her at the house of my grandfather’s sister, Aunt Nini van Limburg Stirum, where she stayed sometimes. I had glued them in my scrapbook at boarding school, proud that I was given “personal photographs.” However, on researching their origin, it appeared they were all copyrighted.
Aunt Nini bequeathed to me the photo that is on the cover. Audrey’s mother, Aunt Ella van Heemstra, had told her she should leave it to me. It was an old frame that stood later in our house on my grand piano. To verify if it had a copyright, a professional framer friend carefully opened the fragile back and then we noticed that Audrey’s photo was collated to a photograph of another unknown beautiful woman taken by a high-end studio in Rome! Did they feel at that time that Audrey’s photo was not important enough to buy a new frame for it? Audrey was not “famous“ yet at that time, and that’s probably the reason why this photograph is not as widespread as some of the others.
On the back of the photo figured a stamp stating that photographer Noel Mayne of Baron Studios in London was the copyrighted photographer, but he died in 2011 and we could not find an estate handling his copyrights posthumously.
Noel Mayne had taken the picture when Audrey was modeling and doing cabaret shows in London around 1950, and that was before she was discovered to play Gigi on Broadway.
We found that the photograph of Audrey and Mel Ferrer and their son Sean appeared on the audreyhepburn.com website.
They apparently used it as a Christmas card to close friends in 1962. We copyrighted it to Sean Hepburn Ferrer, as we could not find the original copyright holding photographer. In the process, I became aware that Audrey must have been the most photographed film star ever. Just look at the Wikipedia and Google sites. Even her sons reportedly said that they did not realize how famous their mother was, despite all the paparazzi.
The short stories are published by Willow Manor Publishing of Virginia (www.willowmanorpublishing.com) which also handles cover design. They will be offered to readers in the USA through Amazon Kindle, which sells for the regular low introductory Kindle price of $0.99 cents. On Amazon.ca (Canada), the price may vary around CDN$1. Readers in the Netherlands may want to go to amazon.nl, which leads to amazon.co.uk., which, in turn, is the source for readers in England as well. (I understand that Amazon will open a Netherlands bookstore this fall.) Readers in other parts of the world will have their own directives how to reach amazon.com and get access to the stories.
I would have liked to offer the Audrey short story for free but the Amazon Kindle system does not allow that. Whatever proceeds I will receive from the story will be donated to the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund, http://www.audreyhepburn.com. This site also includes many charming photographs of Audrey throughout her life. She never boasted, had no scandals, was always gracious and seemingly self-conscious about her fame as an actress. Audrey says herself that she seemed to have been floating on heavenly air, unaware what was happening to her. She was a natural, who at the end of her life gave herself completely to the poor hungry children of the world, as the unforgettable Ambassadrice of UNICEF.
I admire the work the Children’s Fund and UNICEF do. In my career at the World Bank, I have seen many destitute children as well, but was unable to do much about it as one person. I was able to lift two young women from their doomed poverty cycle in Africa, but even though two lives saved is better than none, it is a drop on a hot plate.
Readers may, therefore, also want to donate to this Fund directly by going to the website. It is managed by Audrey’s sons Sean Hepburn Ferrer and Luca Dotti. Sean was given a preview of the short story and he was agreeable to us publishing it. I hope you like it, too.
I got to know Audrey when I was seven and she a young girl seven years older than me, and while she had that lovely smile and endearing face, how could I expect at that age what she would become?
I have been fascinated – as so many others – by her star, and it is because she gave me that goodbye kiss at seven that I stayed glued to her till she died. A remarkable woman, or as her son Sean titled her for his wonderful book: “Audrey Hepburn, an Elegant Spirit.” You can get it on Amazon, too. It is published by Atria Books (Simon & Schuster, Inc) and warmly written, as you can understand from a son of a wonderful mother, including most interesting and moving views from those who were close to her. It also contains marvelous photographs not found on the “internet”.
When I saw the book’s advert, I felt I wanted this more than any of the many biographies written about her because of its personal nature. An elegant spirit, that’s what she was.
Men know women and women know men, but some are worth writing about more than others. This blog is to launch ten short stories about women I have known. The first short story is about how, as a boy in Holland, I met Audrey Hepburn, who developed from a young Dutch girl wrecked by World War II to one of the most beloved and enchanting film stars ever. And how I met her again in Switzerland. A story I can’t forget and would like to share with you and which her son, Sean Hepburn Ferrer, found “a sweet story” when I asked him to have a look at it.
Some of the “short story women” left a lasting impression on me (such as Audrey Hepburn and my grandmother, “Lady D”) and some shared part of my life. Some are left out because writing about them would be too painful.
Meeting women of different plumage seems to have been my star-enforced fate. I always felt that astrology had something to do with it. One astrologer told me that it was because I was born at 1:00 o’clock in the night when the moon stood at a particular angle to Mother Earth in the Scorpion month. My stars pointed to eternal adjustment (euphemism for continual trouble), and that included women.
My grand uncle-author, Joost van der Poorten Schwartz (pen name “Maarten Maartens”, see my blog of October 18, 2013) wrote books one hundred years ago, widely read in America, England, and Germany, and one of his books was a collection of short stories entitled Some Women I have known. After reading these often humorous short stories, written in the Victorian age, I decided to write my own Some Women, though content and style are of course totally different from the great-uncle.
Apart from his eloquence as an author, which I surely do not pretend to match, his Some Women is more a blend of satire and psychological realism of female characters in his time, and a reflection on marriage as it evolved in the upper-class in his days. His characters are fiction, likely painted from people he met. The stories are approached from an objective angle – probably the reason why he wrote them in the third person despite the title – although his stories do contain autobiographical elements. My stories are based on real characters I met – mostly in romantic relationships – and they are written in the first person because of the autobiographical elements. A few stories are “memoir”-type such as “Audrey” and “Lady D”. As a consequence, I borrowed my uncle’s title as a hull for my own stories, while their content and approach are different and from a personal angle.
In several stories names and places were changed, where needed, to avoid complaining phone calls or knocks on my front door. Maarten Maartens was accused by people who thought his characters resembled them! Here is where non-fiction, memoir and autobiographical fiction must draw a fine line.
The short stories will appear on a monthly basis, probably in the second half of each month.
Coming soon. Stay on the look out.