Gustav Klimt gave Alma her first kiss. Gustav Mahler fell in love with her at first sight and proposed only a few weeks later. Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius abandoned all reason to pursue her. Artist Oskar Kokoschka was driven mad by her and had a life-sized fetish doll made of her after she ended their affair. Poet and novelist Franz Werfel described her as “one of the very few magical women that exist.” But who was Alma Schindler Mahler-Werfel, the woman who brought the most eminent men of an era to their knees?
In the glittering artistic hotbed of turn-of-the-twentieth century Vienna, young Alma Schindler yearns to make her mark as a composer. Alexander Zemlinsky becomes her mentor, lover, and creative champion, utterly convinced of her talent and promise.
But Alma loses her heart to the great Gustav Mahler, who demands that she give up composing as a condition for their marriage. Blinded by her love and her awe of his genius, Alma agrees. Though deeply devoted to her husband’s career, Alma’s spirit is broken to be reduced to a helpmeet and domestic drudge. When tragedy strikes her young family, she descends into the depths of despair. Out of her innocent sacrifice to her husband, her innocence is lost and a startling new Alma emerges, a woman who refuses to choose between freedom and love. Shocking even herself, she unleashes her ecstatic, hypnotic power over men.
Living in the shadow of one of the most famous men of her time, Lidian becomes deeply disappointed by marriage, but consigned to public silence by social conventions and concern for her children and her husband's reputation. Drawn to the erotic energy and intellect of close family friend Henry David Thoreau, she struggles to negotiate the confusing territory between love and friendship while maintaining her moral authority and inner strength. In the course of the book, she deals with overwhelming social demands, faces devastating personal loss, and discovers the deepest meaning of love. Lidian eventually discovers the truth of her own character and learns that even our faults can lead us to independence.
Charmian longs to be viewed as an equal partner who put her own career on hold to support her husband, but Jack doesn’t see it that way…until Charmian is pulled from the audience during a magic show by escape artist Harry Houdini, a man enmeshed in his own complicated marriage. Suddenly, charmed by the attention Houdini pays her and entranced by his sexual magnetism, Charmian’s eyes open to a world of possibilities that could be her escape.
As Charmian grapples with her urge to explore the forbidden, Jack’s increasingly reckless behavior threatens her dedication. Now torn between two of history’s most mysterious and charismatic figures, she must find the courage to forge her own path, even as she fears the loss of everything she holds dear.
The passionate, sweeping story of Bronia, an extraordinary ballerina forever in the shadow of the legendary Nijinsky--Russia's greatest dancer and her older brother.
Born on the road to dancer parents, the Nijinsky children seem destined for the stage. Vaslav is an early prodigy, and through single-minded pursuit will grow into arguably the greatest--and most infamous--Russian ballet dancer of the 20th century. His talented younger sister Bronia, however, also longs to dance. Overshadowed by Vaslav, plagued by a body deemed less than ideal and struggling against the constraints of her gender, Bronia will have to work triply hard to prove herself worthy.
Bronia's stunning discipline and mesmerizing talent will eventually elevate her to the highest stage in Russia: the prestigious, old-world Mariinsky Ballet. But as the First World War rages, revolution sparks in Russia. In her politics, love life and career, Bronia will be forced to confront the choice between old and new; traditional and groundbreaking; safe and passionate.
Through gorgeous and graceful prose, readers will be swept from St. Petersburg and Kiev to London and Paris and plunged into the tumultuous world of modern art. Against the fascinating and tragic backdrop of early 20th century Europe, and surrounded by legends like Anna Pavlova, Coco Chanel, Serge Diaghilev and Pablo Picasso, Bronia must come into her own--as a dancer, mother and revolutionary--in a world that only wishes to see her fall.
At the age of sixteen, Natalya Goncharova is stunningly beautiful and intellectually curious. But while she finds joy in French translations and a history of Russian poetry, her family is more concerned with her marriage prospects. It is only fitting that during the Christmas of 1828 at her first public ball in her hometown of Moscow she attracts the romantic attention of Russia’s most lauded rebel poet: Alexander Pushkin.
Enchanted at first sight, Natalya is already a devoted reader of Alexander’s serialized novel in verse, Evgeny Onegin. The most recently published chapter ends in a duel, and she is dying to learn what happens next. Finding herself deeply attracted to Alexander’s intensity and joie de vivre, Natalya hopes to see him again as soon as possible.
What follows is a courtship and later marriage full of equal parts passion and domestic bliss but also destructive jealousies. When vicious court gossip leads to Alexander dying from injuries earned defending his honor as well as Natalya’s in a duel, Natalya finds herself reviled for her alleged role in his death.
With beautiful writing and understanding, Jennifer Laam, and her compelling new novel, The Lost Season of Love and Snow, help Natalya tell her side of the story—the story of her greatest love and her inner struggle to create a fulfilling life despite the dangerous intrigues of a glamorous imperial Court.
Check out my friend's Wishlists for October:
Heather: Wish List 5: Westward Expansion
Stephanie: Wish-List 5: Spooky Reads