A. Manette Ansay

Good Things I Wish You

good_things_pbackWinner of a 2009 Florida Book Awardfba

The acclaimed author of Vinegar Hill and Midnight Champagne returns with a compelling tale of two summer romances, separated in time by over one hundred and fifty years.

At forty-two, Jeanette Hochmann—newly divorced from her husband of more than a decade—struggles to reassemble her life with her young daughter.  Lately, the world seems bereft of the passion that’s always inspired and sustained her, first as a child prodigy at the piano, later as a teacher and writer of fiction.  Now, she can’t seem to get traction on her latest book, a novel based on the forty-year relationship between nineteenth-century German pianist Clara Schumann and her husband’s handsome young protégé, the composer Johannes Brahms.

Through a chance encounter, Jeanette meets a native of Leipzig, Clara’s birthplace—a mysterious entrepreneur whose casual help with translations of diaries and letters blooms into something more. There are things about men and women, he insists, that do not change.  The two embark on a whirlwind emotional journey that leads Jeanette to a similar crossroads faced by Clara Schumann—as a mother, as an artist—well over a century before.

Beautifully designed, enhanced with photographs, sketches and notes from both present and past, A. Manette Ansay’s original blend of fiction and historical fact captures the timeless nature of love and friendship between women and men.


Buy the book from: indiebound | books & books


Reviews

  • Sun-Sentinel (Florida)
    The music in A. Manette Ansay’s latest novel, Good Things I Wish You, plays in a minor key, but readers who persist in listening for it will be rewarded with a subtle meditation on the price a creative woman pays for romantic love.
  • St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
    The superimposition of the documentary biography makes the emotional walls between the reader and Ansay’s characters both fragile and impenetrable — an effect that only emphasizes the dilemma of nonchoice masquerading as choice.
  • The Providence Journal-Bulletin
    Photos, scraps from letters and diaries, make this book a fascination. The questions posed by Hart and Jeannette are timeless, as Ansay has them debate the true nature of the Clara-Johannes relationship.
  • Fiction Writers Review
    The honest passion to Ansay’s writing is one that I haven’t encountered in a while, one that pleasantly reminds the reader that it’s okay, at times, to be a little earnest. It is Ansay’s dedication to truth, both emotional and historical, that keeps the novel from reading like a stale formula of past and present, but rather a story that is very much alive, rich with imagery and text, transcending boundaries of time and narrative.
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Wisconsin)
    Ansay is an adventurous writer whose work evades easy categorization. But if “Midnight Champagne” is primarily a comedy, brimful with character and incident, “Good Things I Wish You” is something else: darker and quiet, a meditation on art and love in the European mode.
  • BookList (July 1, 2009)
    Spare yet sumptuous, precise yet lavish, Ansay nimbly sifts historical fact through an admittedly autobiographical filter to deliver a richly textured study.
  • Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Wisconsin)
    Ansay, the author of eight books, is in top form here, masterfully blending fiction and historical fact, even including real photographs and historical notes. Don’t miss this one.
  • Elle Magazine (July 1, 2009)
  • California Chronicle
    Ansay sprinkles bits of letters, photographs and drawings throughout the novel, a deft touch that adds to the book’s evocative moods of past and present. Clara writes, “I wish I could find longing as sweet as you do. It only gives me pain and fills my heart with unspeakable woe.” The remarkable thing about Good Things I Wish You is its ability to mine those feelings and emerge shining with life’s possibilities.
  • USA Today: 2009 Summer Books


Advance Praise

Stewart O’Nan, author of Last Night at the Lobster and Songs for the Missing

Like The French Lieutenant’s Woman, Good Things I Wish You employs a rich and daring metafictional spin on one of the great romances in history to investigate passion and love–and what doesn’t change between women and men.  Manette Ansay takes great risks to deliver great rewards.

Diana Abu-Jaber, author of Origin

Good Things I Wish You is a lyrical, haunting exploration of loves past and present. Witty, sprightly, surprisingly, this deeply original and utterly captivating new novel by A. Manette Ansay beguiles the senses and dazzles the heart. A beautiful book.

22 responses so far




22 Responses to “Good Things I Wish You”

  1.   Dianne Bernason 10 Mar 2009 at 7:28 pm 1

    Ms.Ansay, About 5 or 6 yrs. ago I attended a summer workshop for practicing writers at the public library in Cambridge, N. Y. A tall young woman was in the group who resembles your photos. She critiqued a partially completed story of mine, being kind with her words. I have always had the idea it was you since she had an unusual name similar to yours. I await your new novel. Sounds wonderful.
    Sincerely, Dianne Bernas

  2.   crystal lovelesson 29 Apr 2009 at 12:37 pm 2

    Dear Ms. Ansay,
    I was one of your students at UM (you might remember me for trying to hand in my final a week late- you wouldnt have it!!) Anyways, I have continued writing and because of your persuasion, had my poem “Taming of the id” published. I finished your book Vinegar Hill from start to finish on Monday. That was your gift to me upon my departure from the class. Thank you for everything. I was kind of a drag during class discussions and pretty much that year, but it made for some terrific writing!
    Sincerely,
    Crystaline Loveless

  3.   Yoli Rederoon 16 May 2009 at 11:56 am 3

    Dear Ms. Ansay: I have read all your books and I am anxiously awaiting this new one. Just reading your comments creates such a longing in me for the story. I wrote to you once because I am an alumna of UM. You were so gracious to respond. Thank you.

    Yoli Redero

  4.   Laura Paulon 16 Jul 2009 at 11:52 pm 4

    Our fabulous, intelligent, fun bookclub is considering your newest book for our next read — actually it’s my pick and to be honest, my choices to date have had the least enthusiastic reaction – in other words, I am on the hot seat to pick a great read by a Wisconsin author — our theme this year is WISCONSIN authors or books that are connected to our great flavorful state! We are from Grafton — a hop skip and a jump from Port Washington. I need your help — please tell me in a few words (you are the writer :) why we should read your latest, Good Things I Wish For You. I plan to see you in Mequon at the Next Chapter Book Store on Friday! Laura Paul

  5.   Marsha Sodoson 17 Jul 2009 at 9:24 pm 5

    Dear Ms. Ansay,

    I just returned from a reading of your new book which sounds marvelous. Your
    presentation was engaging as always. My daughter was in Foundations at UM, now
    at Georgetown U and spoke to you at one time. I am still interested in auditing
    one of your classes…after November…is that possible? If so, might you direct me?
    I am a mixed media collage artist and find your style in this book fascinating.

    Thank you for sharing your gifts.

    Marsha Sodos

  6.   paolaon 29 Jul 2009 at 9:23 am 6

    Good things I wish you is undoubtfully an impressive love story for all of us. Thanks for sharing it. You are definitely gifted in your ability to turn drama into a success story. I did learned a lot from this lively experience. Good things for you too…:) paola

  7.   Loryon 30 Jul 2009 at 10:37 am 7

    Hi Manette,

    I don’t know if you would remember me, but I was your childbirth teacher along with Lynn. We saw that you were going to be at the West Palm library and wanted to get down there to see you but our schedules would not allow.
    I’ve read ‘Good Things I Wish for you’ and loved it!
    Lynn and I just want to wish you all the best, and we are sorry we missed you!

    Sincerely,
    Lory Harper

  8.   Manette Yapelon 31 Jul 2009 at 5:01 pm 8

    Hi Manette,

    I just wanted to tell you that my name is Manette too! I have never met another Manette so I just wanted to say hello and that I love your books! I started reading your books because of your name, but have kept on reading because of your great writing.
    Thank you!
    Manette S. Yapel

  9.   Ken Krauson 11 Aug 2009 at 11:32 pm 9

    Hi Manette:
    Just wanted you to know that I finished “Good Things” about three weeks ago and savored every bit of it. Clearly you walk the walk of cutting away everything but the moments of detail that render enough of the story for the reader to fill in the rest.
    It was a good read, I learned more history and your hypothesis about what could have driven Brahams back from the brink of full time lover is compelling and believable. Anyway, I really got so much from being in your solstice class and I’ll be sharing the book with my friend Lori, the one who plays the Clara re-enactments for schools. Hope all is well, that your lovely little girl is doing well too.
    KEN KRAUS

  10.   Sam Friedmanon 25 Aug 2009 at 4:29 pm 10

    Hi Manette,

    Just finished your book in slightly over a day! Loved immersing into it, past and present. Always enjoy novels about art history (my background of study), books (I work in a library) and/or music as a source. I rank yours among the most wonderful I’ve encountered in recent years: An Unequal Music, Shadow of the Wind and The Bellini Madonna.

    Looked at your photo on the jacket – your face is beautiful, contemplative and ever so evocative of the exquisite Clara at 35. Has anyone told you this? I see as if in side by side portraits, a similar shape of face, eye, bone structure. (Plain, our Clara wasn’t … !)

    Thank you for your effort and thoughts to make this book a joy on multiple levels – and the photos added much. Haven’t seen their use in a novel since Time and Again.

    Best regards and with appreciation,

    Sam (a female Sam, by the way)

  11.   Jee Leong Kohon 24 Feb 2010 at 6:54 am 11

    Hi Manette,
    Your book arrived like a special envelope. Looking forward to reading the Good Things in it.
    Best regards,
    Jee

  12.   Hal Schweigon 07 Mar 2010 at 3:16 pm 12

    I just finished Vinegar Hill, and while I can’t say I “enjoyed” it in the usual sense — because there is so much heartache in it — I recognize the brilliant accomplishment the book represents in how you weaved together all the various strands of the characters and events to construct a vary authentic portait of this group of characters living in the circumstances you place them in. The blurb on the back of the paperback edition I read promised an eventual triumph of determination and I kept hoping Ellen would evenutally triumph, but the end only suggested she was about to break away. Is there a sequl coming? The title is very apt, because Ellen and others in the book certainly have a bitter hill to overcome in their struggles to find fulfillment. This story onlu confirms what I believe: that religion is the worst institution ever devised by mankind, and that the Catholic religion is the worst of the worst.

  13.   Carol Ameson 24 Sep 2010 at 4:28 pm 13

    I just finished “Blue Water” and read the material at the end. Are you still researching a book about female seafaring wives? If so I may have some helpful material for you. My grandfather, Edmund Mortimer, at the age of 16 sailed around the world on the Bark St. James in the late 1800′s. He kept a journal as a “green hand” and I have transcribed that journal. Captain Clifford’s wife, Fannie, accompanied him on that voyage which was fraught with many perils. I was aided in my transcription by Joan Druitt who I contacted after finding she had referenced my grandfather’s journal in her book, “Hen Frigates”. The original (and my transcription) are available online through Mystic Seaport but I would be happy to share a CD with you.

  14.   tom boyeron 30 Oct 2010 at 7:34 am 14

    Take a look at this exploration of the Clara-Johannes relationship in a song cycle
    by Brahms. It was essentially his autobiography of that relationship, embedded
    in his music and decoded in an MA thesis, later published in The Musical Quarterly:

    http://mq.oxfordjournals.org/content/LXVI/2/262.extract

  15.   Lucy Jackmanon 11 Feb 2011 at 6:17 pm 15

    The Ormond Beach Libarary is sponsoring a Meet the Author Fair on March 13th?
    If you go to http://www.ormondlibraryfriends.org, all the information is there.
    We would love to have you participate in our fair.
    Lucy Jackman
    Pres. Ormond Beach Lib. Friends

  16.   Lori Groteon 18 Oct 2011 at 12:55 pm 16

    “Good Things I Wish For You” was actually the first book of Ms. Ansay’s that I read. I purchased it at a school book fair. As a music teacher, the subject matter intrigued me. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I have now purchased four more books, which I have read in the past week!
    I have a few questions, however. I wonder why Ms. Ansay makes her Wisconsin people act and react to situations as if they are uneducated and extremely simple. Improper grammar: “me and (name)”-this is common in her books, and she had a school teacher character say it! This, to me, is like fingernails on a blackboard! Almost as bad as, “I seen them”…”I seen him/her”…
    In “River Angel,” which for the most part, takes place in the 1990s, yet her characters, especially the women, act as if they are stereotypical 1950s housewives. They aren’t educated, they don’t travel to see children/grandchildren, they have little understanding of the world, etc. I’m from Minnesota, and have been to and through Wisconsin several times. I haven’t met these people! Thank God! Wisconsin has several universities, smaller cities with populations over 10,000, attractions for residents and tourists alike, and much to offer. Uneducated people would not necessarily help attract people to these! Please bring your characters in future books, if you’re back in WI with your settings, more educated, less simple.

  17.   Rebecca Feltonon 12 Feb 2012 at 7:49 pm 17

    Manette,
    I have so enjoyed reading Limbo and find your mind and story shares so much with mine.
    I am on the the Board of Trustee for the Summit County library system in the Park City , Utah area and would love to find out what it might take to invite you to talk or present for us. I don’t know if you even do this, but I would like to explore the idea.
    Your great admirer,
    Rebecca Felton

  18.   newson 30 May 2012 at 10:14 pm 18

    I think one of your advertisements caused my internet browser to resize, you might well want to set up that on your blacklist.

  19.   Pam Moseson 26 Aug 2012 at 10:50 pm 19

    I represent Swift Creek Middle School in Tallahassee, Florida. I’m on a mission to help our principal fill her book shelves and create a principal’s library. My daughter was so excited when I told her about the idea; she went to see her the next day and came home with a book they selected together! Mrs. Rishell is new to Swift Creek this year, what a fabulous way to build relationships with the students. I look forward to hearing from you and appreciate your consideration.

    Pam Moses (ejmoses@comcast.net)
    SCMS PTSO/Partners Coordinator
    2100 Pedrick Road
    Tallahassee, FL 32317
    (850) 414-2670

  20.   helene Aylonon 09 Oct 2012 at 8:30 am 20

    Dear Manette,
    Ever since Macdowell in the 90s, I have treasured our connection, our tangled relationship to religion’s Father God and I see it in your Read This stories. I want to
    “tell you what I think.” Please be in touch.

  21.   mike doughertyon 06 Feb 2013 at 8:42 pm 21

    Dear Manette, I am still only almost finished reading Midnight Champagne, but could not keep from telling you now how much I cherish its richness and look forward to finding more of your work. I think perhaps what you have to tell us is what Flannery O’Connor would have, had she been permitted more joy in her short life, instead of the anguish that writing allowed her to vent. I read her to understand grief. I read you see that it is merely a patch on a quilt, or a wound that can heal with time. Thank-you for this fresher and deeper perspective.

  22.   Bertillaon 16 Jun 2013 at 10:32 am 22

    Hello Manette!
    It has been so many years since we spent time together in the Abacos. I am writing you from France where I just now finished reading “Good things” in this little French Village near Geneva. It was a travel gift from Wayne that he brought home proudly to me as a perfect gift for this trip.
    I wanted to finish it here so that I could give it to a friend when we visit her and her husband in Portofino tomorrow, but I am even more looking forward to it now, because for me, it is your very best! In 2010 we spent the winter on the same old wharf, in Orchid Bay, with them. She also has an incredible personal story and I think she will find something in yours.
    It is lovely to remember our time in Guana with you and Jake. Bertilla

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