Publisher: Harper Perennial
Pages: 272 pgs
Genre: Historical Fiction
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge
The acclaimed author of Vinegar Hill returns with a story of two unlikely romances—one historical, the other modern-day—separated by thousands of miles and well over a century.
Battling feelings of loss and apathy in the wake of a painful divorce, novelist Jeanette struggles to complete a book about the long-term relationship between Clara Schumann, a celebrated pianist and the wife of the composer Robert Schumann, and her husband's protÉgÉ, the handsome young composer Johannes Brahms. Although this legendary love triangle has been studied exhaustively, Jeanette—herself a gifted pianist—wonders about the enduring nature of Clara and Johannes's lifelong attachment. Were they just "best friends," as both steadfastly claimed? Or was the relationship complicated by desires that may or may not have been consummated?
Through a chance encounter, Jeanette meets Hart, a mysterious, worldly entrepreneur who is a native of Clara's birthplace, Leipzig, Germany. Hart's casual help with translations quickly blossoms 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 across Germany and Switzerland to a crossroads similar to that faced by Clara Schumann—also a mother, also an artist—more than a century earlier.
Accompanied by photographs, sketches, and notes from past and present, A. Manette Ansay's original blend of fiction and history captures the timeless nature of love and friendship between women and men.
I am a historical fiction junkie. I can’t help myself. I was a history major in college and it still sticks with me. I thrive on well-researched historical fiction novels, geektastic history books on obscure topics (that no one but me cares about) and History Channel shows (the ones that are not about the apocalypse---how did that happen---but actual history). I especially love historical fiction novels about famous historical couples. They always add something to my love of both figures that a book about them individually would not have. This may go on the list of my favorites because I choose to believe that Clara and Brahms carried on an affair after the death of her husband, Robert Schumann.
I must admit that I felt quite a bit more of a connection to Clara. Jeanette was a great character on her own but I just gravitated more towards Clara. She was mysterious and her sections of the story were just very well done. Jeanette was interesting and relatable but, I think, a she was bit overshadowed by Clara but I still did like her quite a bit. I think if Jeanette had been in a book by herself, I would have loved her story a whole lot more.
The biggest draw for Good Things I Wish You is the way history is woven into the story. Pictures, letters, and diary entries are interspersed between chapters to enhance Clara and Brahm’s story. These touches add to the historical characters and make them feel “real” when otherwise they would feel “fictional”. It felt at points like a history textbook or a really good biography but I loved it. The history geek in me was doing a rather emphatic happy dance. Ansay clearly did her research and exhibited it well in her novel.
Good Things I Wish You has a little bit of everything…romance, history, drama. It was a really nice and relaxing book that I read during a rainy afternoon and it was perfect.