Spotlight on Beethoven in Love; Opus 139 by Howard Jay Smith

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Spotlight on Beethoven in Love; Opus 139 by Howard Jay Smith

Spotlight on Beethoven in Love; Opus 139 by Howard Jay SmithBeethoven in Love; Opus 139 by Howard Jay Smith
Published by SYQ Books on January 11, 2016
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 385
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At the moment of his death, Ludwig van Beethoven pleads with Providence to grant him a final wish—one day, just a single day of pure joy. But first he must confront the many failings in his life, so the great composer and exceedingly complex man begins an odyssey into the netherworld of his past life led by a spirit guide who certainly seems to be Napoleon, who died six years before. This ghost of the former emperor, whom the historical Beethoven both revered and despised, struggles to compel the composer to confront the ugliness as well as the beauty and accomplishments of his past.


As Beethoven ultimately faces the realities of his just-ended life, we encounter the women who loved and inspired him. In their own voices, we discover their Beethoven—a lover with whom they savor the profound beauty and passion of his creations. And it’s in the arms of his beloveds that he comes to terms with the meaning of his life and experiences the moment of true joy he has always sought.

Book Excerpt:

Prologue:

The Death of Beethoven

Vienna, 5:00 pm, March 26, 1827

Outside Beethoven’s rooms at the Schwarzspanierhaus, a fresh measure of snow from a late season thunderstorm muffles the chimes of St. Stephens Cathedral as they ring out the hours for the old city.

Ein, Zwei, Drei, Vier… Funf Uhr. Five O’clock.

Beethoven, three months past his fifty-sixth birthday, lies in a coma, as he has now for two nights, his body bound by the betrayal of an illness whose only virtue was that it proved incurable and would, thankfully, be his last. Though his chest muscles and his lungs wrestle like giants against the approaching blackness, his breathing is so labored that the death rattle can be heard over the grumblings of the heavens throughout his apartment.

Muss es sein? Must it be? Ja, es muss sein. Beethoven is dying. From on high, the Gods vent their grief at his imminent passing and hurl a spear of lightening at Vienna.

Their jagged bolt of electricity explodes outside the frost covered windows of the Schwarzspanierhaus with a clap of thunder so violent it startles the composer to consciousness.

Beethoven’s eyes open, glassy, unfocused. He looks upward – only the Gods know what he sees, if anything. He raises his right hand, a hand that has graced a thousand sonatas, and clenches his fist for perhaps the last time. His arm trembles as if railing against the heavens. Tears flood his eyes.

His arm falls back to the bed… His eyelids close… And then he is gone …

About Howard Jay Smith

Howard Jay Smith is an award-winning writer from Santa Barbara, California. A former Washington, D.C. Commission for the Arts Fellow, & Bread Loaf Writers Conference Scholar, he taught for many years in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and has lectured nationally. His short stories, articles and photographs have appeared in the Washington Post, Horizon Magazine, the Journal of the Writers Guild of America, the Ojai Quarterly, and numerous literary and trade publications. While an executive at ABC Television, Embassy TV, and Academy Home Entertainment, he worked on numerous film, television, radio, and commercial projects. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Santa Barbara Symphony – “The Best Small City Symphony in America” – and is a member of the American Beethoven Society.

The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders

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The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders The Secrets of Wishtide by Kate Saunders
Narrator: Anna Bentinck
Series: Laetitia Rodd Mysteries #1
Published by Dreamscape Media on October 25, 2016
Source: Library
Genres: Historical Mystery
Length: 10 hrs 35 mins
Format: Audiobook
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Mrs. Laetitia Rodd, aged fifty-two, is the widow of an archdeacon. Living in Hampstead with her confidante and landlady, Mrs. Benson, who once let rooms to John Keats, Laetitia makes her living as a highly discreet private investigator.

Her brother, Frederick Tyson, is a criminal barrister living in the neighboring village of Highgate with his wife and ten children. Frederick finds the cases, and Laetitia solves them using her arch intelligence, her iron discretion, and her immaculate cover as an unsuspecting widow. When Frederick brings to her attention a case involving the son of the well-respected, highly connected Sir James Calderstone, Laetitia sets off for Lincolnshire to take up a position as the family’s new governess—quickly making herself indispensable.

But the seemingly simple case—looking into young Charles Calderstone’s “inappropriate” love interest—soon takes a rather unpleasant turn. And as the family’s secrets begin to unfold, Laetitia discovers the Calderstones have more to hide than most.

The Secrets of Wishtide is fine. I really just don’t have much to say about it. Letty is a competent investigator, but I wanted her to have more of a personality I guess. She’s a little bland, which does allow her to fit in unobtrusively, but I wished she had more of a spark to her. Ido have some hope for her and Inspector Blackbeard though.

I liked the Victorian Britain setting, both London and the countryside. We see the seedy side of the city and the drawing rooms of the rich. We see inside of Newgate and the country manor. I do think it did a good job of portraying how women were treated and the (lack of) options in that era.

As far as the mystery goes, what started as a short trip to look into an unacceptable love interest turns more complicate and dead bodies start to pile up. The story got a little complicated and I’m never much of a fan of the “oh look, he wasn’t really dead after all” plot line. And it’s funny that just about all of Letty’s hunches pay off. It was well-plotted though, with enough clues and witnesses. There’s no grand revelation, but there is a good scene where the bad guy is cornered.

I guess The Secrets of Wishtide draws a lot of it’s inspiration from Dickens’ David Copperfield, but since I’ve never read it I totally missed that part.

Will I read the next in the series? Maybe, if my library gets it on audio and I don’t have anything else lined up.

About Kate Saunders

Kate Saunders is an author and journalist. She has worked for The Times, Sunday Times, Sunday Express, Daily Telegraph and Cosmopolitan amongst others, and has contributed to Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and Start the Week. She has written numerous books for adults and children, including the bestselling Night Shall Overtake Us, and her follow on to E Nesbit’s Five Children and It stories, Five Children on the Western Front, which won the Costa Children’s Book Award in 2014. She lives in London.

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

Readers’ Workouts – 4/18

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Look at all the green!

This week:

Tuesday – Walk with the dog, Elliptical
Wednesday – Walk with the dog, Pilates
Thursday – Elliptical
Sunday – Walk with the dog
Monday – Elliptical

Meal plan:

Mac and cheese with a side of zucchini and tomatoes
Baked sausage farfalle
Chili garlic shrimp
Chicken fajitas
Taco salad

Year Fitness Goals:

– Lose weight. Goal – Lose 26 lbs. I haven’t weighed myself. We’re working on the bathroom, so our scale is hanging out somewhere in the living room underneath the boxes, etc. And I am getting very tired of the mess.(starting 141.6)

– Run 2 5ks, 1 10K and 1 half. Completed – none. I’m doing one this weekend. I’m debating whether to do the 5K option or the 10K.

– Hit my weekly step goal (56,000 steps) for 48 weeks. Weeks completed: 13

How was your week? Readers’ Workouts is hosted by Joy at Joy’s Book Blog .

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