When Ms. Erwin approached me about reviewing her book, So Faithful a Heart, I was immediately intrigued. I'm a huge fan of Mozart, whose music I have long adored. Additionally, I am a sucker for love stories and history, especially if they are based on real people.
The story opened with an emotional prologue, that had me quickly turning the pages, and it didn't stop from there. Ms. Erwin gracefully pulls us into the story, and makes quite an impression on the reader with her vast knowledge of the time period, the real-to-life characters and knowledge of music.
When doing research on hsitorical muscians you often hear about how they compose, how they perform, little tid-bits of their personal life, but nothing such as this. Ms Erwin delves into the life of Mozart and Nancy, taking the reader with her.
The book is an emotional heart-wrencher. You feel for all of the characters: Mozart, Nancy his mistress, Constanze his wife, who has to deal with so many deaths of her babies that I just couldn't imagine living in that time! Even Aloysia, who drives you batty with her jealousy and how she provokes people, garnered my empathy.
And then finally the circumstances around his death... heartbreaking. For one who is so beloved in the music industry even to this day, his life was full of adventure and tragedy, and we are introduced to a woman who was so important in his life, and a musical sensation in her own right. A true love story they had, and unfortunately because of the times they lived in and choices that were made prior to them marrying, they weren't able to live that life together as they should have been allowed.
This book is not a light read. I did cry while reading it. That being said, I would recommend reading it, especially if you are a fan of Mozart. I also enjoyed the author's note at the beginning of the book and the one at the end, always fun to learn more about the character's history and their life times. ~ Eliza Knight, History Undressed
So Faithful A Heart skillfully draws the reader into the often mysterious and romanticized world of 18th century composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and his operatic leading lady, Anna Storace. The story is told mostly from the point of view of Storace, called Nancy by her family and friends, as she works as an opera singer and actress under contract with Emperor Joseph II. She is drawn into an intense, and sometimes tumultuous, affair with the married composer that leads to scandal, heartbreak and hope and explores how far soul mates are willing to go for one another.
Erwin's masterful grasp on not only the lives and personalities of her characters, but the atmosphere and intricacies of 18th century Vienna immerses the reader in a world that engages and pulls at the heartstrings. Her ability to write a defined historical piece and still inject modern relevance into the characters and plot is sure to reach a wider audience than the average historical romance novel. The romance is realistic, as is the world of 18th century music and theater, and readers will easily find themselves rooting for Mozart and Storace to find peace and happiness against all the odds. Erwin manages to humanize the Herculean legend of Mozart and displays his flaws, humor, passion and genius with the vulnerability of a man struggling to cope with the mistakes in his life. Storace is a likable heroine with a healthy balance of fire and the demure expectations of women in her time. They make an unstoppable pair.
Music and theater enthusiasts, history enthusiasts, romance readers, and Mozart and Storace fans will all greatly enjoy So Faithful a Heart.
~ J. Jones, author & historian
What do you do when you meet the love of your life but honor dictates that you remain married to someone else? So Faithful a Heart is about the intricacies of a very complicated relationship between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and opera singer Nancy Storace. It has a lot to recommend it - history, drama, and a romance so compelling that it can touch even the heart of an avowed non-romantic like me.
History and opera buffs will revel in the details about backstage life in 1700's Austria. Erwin brings the reader fully into all the intrigue, rivalries, and politics of the time. Deftly written, the world she draws is lively and colorful. She also covers some of the social conventions of the culture in the introduction, which makes more sense of Mozart's dilemma to the modern reader.
The portrayal of Mozart is not what the average reader would expect. Most people have formed their idea of what Mozart was like on the buffoonish portrayal of him by Peter Shaffer in Amadeus, a work that had no pretensions of being historically accurate. Instead, in So Faithful a Heart, Mozart is shown as a talented man struggling to balance his own need for Storace with living up to commitments he made before he met her. He is a flawed man, but basically a man of honor.
Likewise, Storace herself is an interesting character. We first see her as a high spirited 17 year old, anchored down by a mother who was more concerned about her own desires than that of her child. Despite being a talented and highly successful opera singer, she spends a great deal of her life under the control of others. That leads to the tragedy of a forced marriage to an abusive husband.
Indeed, tragedy and pathos punctuate the novel in ways that make the forbidden love even more poignant. They occur in ways that both serve to keep the lovers apart while increasing their need to be with the one person in their lives who could truly soothe their troubled souls. Their story is completely heart wrenching at times, causing the reader to root even harder for them.
This isn't the sort of thing that I normally read (historical murder mysteries and non-fiction), but did so upon the urging of a friend. I'm glad I did. I have to say, I really enjoyed it.
~Nellie Kampmann, author & host of Haunted Voices Radio