Friday 10 January 2020

The Violinist's Apprentice by Isabella Mancini @IsobellaManci10 BLOG TOUR @rararesources #TheViolinistsApprentice #MyLifeInBooks

A dark journey through time.

It’s on a group trip to Rome that something terrifying and mysterious happens, whirling musical Clementina back in time to 17th century Italy. Amidst court intrigue and creaking carriages, Rome becomes a chiaroscuro backdrop to her growing feelings for young violin-maker Antonio Stradivari. But soon he discovers that Clementina is not all she appears. She must surely be a witch.  How can she return to the 21st century again? Meanwhile, in an icy corner of the Arctic, a professor plots.

The Violinist's Apprentice by Isabella Mancini was published in November 2019.

I'm delighted to welcome the author to Random Things today as part of the Rachel's Random Resources Blog Tour.

She's talking about the books that are special to her in My Life In Books 

Isabella Mancini - My Life in Books 

I treasure the 1944 war edition of this novel, which at the time was actually banned due to the ‘immorality’ contained within. From the time, fifty years ago, when it was first handed to me by my father, I was transfixed. It transported me, as a young gauche reader, to a 17th Century world replete with dashing cavaliers and a heroine plucked from the obscurity and prudity of the English countryside to a very bawdy, but plague-ridden, London. I have never forgotten it.
At the age of 15 I had to study this novel for my English ‘O’ Level. It taught me that first impressions of the opposite sex are not always reliable. When Elizabeth Bennet first meets Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited, and when she discovers his involvement in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her own beloved sister, Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. By the conclusion, the author expertly shows the utter folly of judging others by first impressions.
As an adult, this book propelled me into a world of injustice to certain minority groups. Leon Uris magnificently portrays the birth of a new nation in the midst of enemies. It’s the story of an American nurse, an Israeli freedom fighter caught up in a glorious, heartbreaking, triumphant era. As such it not only became one of the great bestselling novels of all time, it also showed how global sympathies can ebb and flow from generation to generation.

In my twenties I lost both my parents, followed in later years with the loss of both my siblings. For years I internalised my grief, causing untold medical symptoms until I read this book. It brought untold comfort to me as it relates near-death experiences and covers the wider aspects of spiritual growth and psychic healing. A must for everyone suffering bereavement.
Similarly, this epic saga of Russia. War and Peace is a vast story centred on Napoleon’s war with Russia. While it expresses the author’s view that history is an inexorable process which man cannot influence, he peoples it with a cast of over five hundred characters. Included are the artless and delightful Natasha Rostov, the world-weary Prince Andrew Bolkonsky and the idealistic Pierre Bezukhov. For the reader, a wonderful insight into a different world.
My love for America was handed down to me by my father and aunt, who each travelled to the US as part of the famous ‘huddled masses’ (described by Emma Lazarus’ poem on the plaque at the foot of the Statue of Liberty)  in the early years of the 20th Century. For over 50 years, Alistair Cooke entertained millions of listeners across the globe with his weekly BBC radio programme ‘Letter from America’. This book comprises a selection of his finest broadcasts between 1946 – 2004. A must for lovers of all things American.
As we grow older, inevitably our minds turn to the meaning of life. This little book describes Frankl’s conviction that the primary human drive is not pleasure but the pursuit of what we find meaningful. This is remarkable given that the author experienced the worst possible start in life in a Nazi death camp. It inspires all readers to find significance in the very act of living.

In these days of political turmoil, it’s good to read how the man many call our greatest-ever leader dealt with the most profound problem ever faced by the United Kingdom:  make peace with Hitler but by so doing revoke our own sovereignty in order to save British lives, or to fight them ‘on the beaches’.  We all know what decision Churchill made. |It makes wonderful reading.
I include these, as written in my other guise, merely to show how reading about the past has coloured and influenced my own writing. These three novels were all influenced by the above historical works. It’s only by researching, learning and writing about the past that man can hope to understand what went wrong back then. Lest we forget.
I conclude my life’s story in books with this true account, as a rite of passage. In 2005, two self-deprecating pensioners moved to France in a quest for a better life. However, France was a completely different culture and many hysterical adventures are recorded as we ventured into the unknown. However, after 12 years of struggle, as Sinatra melodically intoned ‘It’s so nice to go travelling…but so much nicer to come home’.  Never forget the comforts of your own back yard. 
Isabella Mancini - January 2020 

Isabella Mancini is the nom de plume of prolific author Olga Swan, published by Crooked Cat Books.  She has a BA Hons (Open) in English Language and Literature and a lifelong love for writing and language. For 12 years she lived in SW France, but returned to the UK in 2017, where she now lives in the West Midlands with her husband and elderly French rescue dog Bruno.
Previous books by Olga Swan:
An Englishwoman in America
From Paradis to Perdition
Pensioners in Paradis
The Mazurek Express
3rd Degree Murder

Social Media Links –
Facebook Group: Books, Music and the Past
Amazon page for Olga Swan:

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