Winner of a 2009 Florida Book Award
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.
- Author’s Statement
- Background on Clara (Wieck) Schumann
- Sample Chapters
- Images from the Novel
- Notes on Images
- Extra Images
- Reading Guide
- 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
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.
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