In the spirit of classic novels grappling with gender and class, Cynthia Sally Haggard's FAREWELL MY LIFE is a sweeping, beautifully rendered addition to the historical fiction canon. One of Grace's love interests, Russell, adds an individualized sort of darkness to match the upheaval of the era. The first, early twist in the story was legitimately startling, but likewise consistent with what we know of Russell. From that moment forward, the tension between Russell's shadowy qualities and his overwhelming desire for Grace remains a harrowing constant. Even with Russell, Haggard still imbues him with complexity, forcing readers to empathize with him, however reluctantly or partially. Later twists and turns refuse to show him as flat, simply and utterly villainous; his past traumas are given serious weight, even if they do not absolve him of his worst actions. It's a delicate balance that, most of the time, Haggard accomplishes. Toward the middle of the book, Grace's eager suitors interact altogether--the only time--in one place, an expertly drawn passage told iteratively from the different perspectives. It's nearly forensic, in the best possible sense; each partial perspective frames how limited our individual observation of a situation can be, and the ramifications of the scene echo all the way to the conclusion. --Andy Carr for IndieReader.
"A unique, deftly scripted, and extraordinary novel by an author with a distinctive narrative storytelling style that will hold the readers dedicated attention from beginning to end, Farewell My Life: Buona Notte Vita Mia is an impressive and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. One of those rare novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished."--Mid-West Book Review.
"Farewell My Life is a period drama in the form of a book, but the early 1920s form so much more than just a set piece to watch the lives of characters unfold. Every person in the book is masterfully shaped by the era, showing both prejudices, which would be overcome by living in the modern-day and inner strength and drive to claim what one wants that has existed throughout time. By not shying away from either, the author has made a masterpiece, one readers can easily lose themselves in. As the book sweeps on, Grace is brought from Georgetown to post-war Berlin, where she pursues her own passions to become a violinist, before being thrown into the middle of family strife she had no notion existed even the day before she became the center of it. It is an intimate epic, an image of the minutiae of lives spelled out against the vastness of family history."--San Francisco Book Review.
"The author knows her characters very, very well; this shows in the consistent and very individual way they act. This is not a plot-driven story; it's character-driven. In this book, the characters are the jam which holds everything together. The best example of this is Grace, the talented violinist, who, simply, jumps off the page. I loved her."--Wishing Shelf
"This intriguing tale explores the hopes, plans, and struggles of Angelina, the stubborn youngest daughter of a troubled Italian-American family, and her two daughters. A widow, Angelina became a "fallen woman," acting as a mistress over the years in an attempt to earn her own money, and the story opens just as her life begins to change. Based on the places the characters go and how the plot develops, the author seems willing to show exactly what might've taken place without holding back, and while some of the expletives are omitted, particularly those in English, the scenes can be quite graphic as the plot unflinchingly follows the women through their decisions and dealings with the men around them."--Book Review Directory.
"The author...adeptly summons the era in all its manners and details with her descriptive prose...Her omniscient, third-person narrator effectively flits through the heads of various characters, offering momentary glimpses of their inner lives."--Kirkus Reviews"This is not your typical mystery; it's for fans of thrilling action and historically-inspired events...Contra to the status quo of the genre, the men are the romantics - though in a deranged manner - and the women showcased are the core strength of the novel."--BookLife Prize."I loved the elaborate descriptions of all the places in this book. This is the kind of book that shows instead of just telling. The characters are very well-developed and interesting to read about. Angelina is a fascinating character, as is Grace. Along the duration of the book, Grace learns a lot about herself. I was amazed by her quiet yet vibrant personality, and her brilliant talent."--Pavani Mathur (The Voracious Bibliophile)
Although this is a dark novel set in a dark time, I hope you will enjoy meeting my family of strong women; witty Violet, confrontational Angelina, majestic Aunt Paulina and our talented violinist Grace, who has her head in the clouds.
Much of this novel concerns family dynamics and Grace's coming-of-age amidst a trio of rather calculating men, but one fact that might surprise you is that it contains the story of the Oster Conspiracy, one of about 20 attempts to assassinate Hitler between 1934 and 1944. This one (in 1938), came the closest to succeeding and would have done so had it not been for the efforts of English Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to appease Hitler in his quest to avoid another world war.
Many people ask me what the message of this novel is, and if I had one thing to pick I would say it is about the fragility of life. Those of us who have enough money to enjoy our lives feel secure in the notion that everything will continue forever. But that is not true. Things can unwind much more rapidly than we like to admit.
Lastly, I have done my very best to make this an entertaining read. Apart from a cast of quirky characters that my women have to deal with, the novel takes you to a violin lesson, to a ball and to a nightclub in 1920s Berlin. I hope you enjoy reading this tale as much as I have enjoyed telling it.