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Good Things I Wish You: A Novel Paperback – June 22, 2010

4 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In Ansay's slight new novel, Jeanette Hochmann is a recently divorced mother writing a novel based on the 40-year relationship between 19th-century German pianist Clara Schumann and her husband's protégé, composer Johannes Brahms. Through a dating service, Jeanette meets a German entrepreneur, Hart, and while they appear to have little in common, Hart's 16-year-old daughter—like Jeannette in her youth—is a budding musical prodigy, who lives in Leipzig near the former residence of the subject of Jeanette's book. Although Jeanette and Hart attempt to have a platonic friendship, it quickly (and predictably) evolves into more, and their lives begin to overlap with the characters of Jeanette's novel. The story is most compelling when examining the fascinating bond between the 19th-century musicians. Less compelling are the pages devoted to navigating the more mundane contemporary world of dating and Starbucks coffee runs. While the photographs, sketches and letters interspersed throughout the book provide interest and help to elevate the material, in the end, Ansay's novel feels piddling and ordinary. We know exactly where Hart and Jeanette's relationship is going, and as a result, it's a strain to get there. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Critics were intrigued by Ansay's premise—a comparison of two superficially connected women and their relationships—but most found Clara's story to be far more interesting than that of her contemporary counterpart. Jeanette, with her modern-day minutiae and angst, paled inevitably beside the charismatic and mysterious Clara. Additionally, Ansay's inclusion of historical photographs, sketches, and diary excerpts rendered Clara all the more fascinating. Only the South Florida Sun-Sentinel felt that the present-day characters were compelling enough to have flourished within their own novel. Overall, critics considered Ansay's seventh book a worthy read for patient readers as well as a thoughtful meditation on love, longing, and the viability of male and female friendships. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 Reprint edition (June 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006123995X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061239953
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,725,225 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Here is what some dum-dum at Publishers Weekly
(which has no literary value whatsoever and never has had)
said about this superb novel:
"...in the end, Ansay's novel feels piddling and ordinary."
I think PW should give credit to whomever writes their
reviews so that we can confront them directly. She (or he)
tells us that she (or he) knew how the book would end.
So what? Has this person ever read a book more than once?
Does his or her remark have any meaning whatsoever? Many
of the contributing readers have far more intelligence and
give Amazon readers far more insight into the books they review
than the dashed-off prattle of PW.
2 Comments 17 of 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
I've read a couple of books - SISTER, MIDNIGHT CHAMPAGNE - by A. Manette Ansay, and always enjoyed them. When her new book came up on my HarperCollins list, I was pretty excited and knew that I wanted to read and review it.

This book weaves in the love story of Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms with that of the narrator, Jeanette, and a German man, Hart, that she meets through a dating service. Jeannette is writing a book on the two, and over dinner learns that Hart also has an interest in the two composers. They become friends and he helps her translate letters and diary entries.

I found both love stories compelling, though I didn't necessarily understand them. I felt like I was trying to understand Jeannette and Hart's relationship, just as Jeannette was trying to understand Clara and Brahms'. In both relationships, the couple starts out intending only for a friendship over a shared passion - in Brahms and Clara's case, the piano; Jeannette and Hart both have an interest in Brahms and Clara's story and in their music. As time goes on, they become closer and deal the age-old question of whether or not men and women can ever be friends.

Ansay includes pictures of Schumann and Brahms and excerpts from those letters and diaries in her novel, which I liked. Aside from giving the reader a little of the history, it made Jeannette's research feel more real and more authentic.

There are a couple of sections where the conversation between Hart and Jeannette is put on the left and right side of the page, respectively, so that the reader can see where interruptions occur (and frequently are ignored). At first, I thought there was something wrong with my book and found it a little distracting.
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Format: Paperback
Open a door to beautiful music, but listen with your eyes, not your ears.

In Good Things I Wish for You, A. Manette Ansay teases you with the magic of Schumann and Brahms as she offers a fictional solution to their complicated relationship. You might want to play a little of Brahm's lullaby ("Cradle Song") or Schumann's "Arabesque" while you read.

Although Robert is the Schumann most thought of - his beautiful compositions, his madness, his friendship with famous contemporaries, including Brahms, Mendelssohn, Chopin - Clara Wieck Schumann, his wife and famous in her own right as a concert pianist, is the romantic heroine of this novel.

Ansay uses Clara as the historic counterpart to her contemporary character, Jeanette, who is writing about Clara's life as the wife of a romantic composer, mother of seven children, and working concert pianist on tour.

Ansay cautions that her story is fiction, but it helps to know the historic context of the Schumanns' background. Ansay refers you to her website - [...] - for her inspiration to the book and for a brief synopsis of Clara Schumann's life; it is enough to help you make sense of the references. But if you'd like more, try these sites:

[...].

[...].

As Jeannette's life as a recently divorced mother comes into focus, her relationship with a German surgeon/glider pilot becomes entangled with the flashbacks to Clara, her husband Robert, and her illusive relationship with Johannes Brahms. Although a magnificent composer in his early years, Robert becomes mentally ill and spends his last two years in a mental institution. The love that brought them to sue her father for the right to marry, keeps Clara true to the man and his music.
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Format: Paperback
In Good Things I Wish You, author A. Manette Ansay delivers a rather unique writing style, with her plotting of interweaving historical fact/fiction, with present day. Starting out with Jeanette, a woman and single mother of a young daughter, who is recovering from a divorce, we learn of her struggles to find her way, as she writes her first book. The book that she is crafting, is all-encompassing, in a way that the characters wrap themselves around Jeanette and ache for their story to be released. This story? The tale of Clara Schumann, a world renowned female pianist, her husband well-known composer Robert Schumann and the young protege Johannes Brahms. As a surprise twist of fate, Jeanette meets a rather mysterious man who grew up in Leipzig, East Germany, birthplace of Clara Schumann. There is a strange sort of connection between Jeanette and this man, Hart, who claims that men and women can never be friends and quite frankly, he does not feel any sort of chemistry between himself and Jeanette.

However, as Hart aides Jeanette in translations and researching the various places from which Clara's, Robert's and Brahms' stories take place, the connection between the two become even greater. This brings forth, again, the question: Can women and men ever be just friends? More importantly, doesn't the basis of a friendship and companionship make for the most stable of relationship foundations? Perhaps, perhaps not. Though not the typical romance, I found the relationship between Jeanette and Hart an interesting one.

A combination of historical fiction and contemporary fiction, Good Things I Wish You is a story that will reach an array of audiences. Two completely different woman, living many decades apart, yet sharing so many similarities and common traits.
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