A Review to Fall Under the Spell Of

The newest books are those that never grow old.
~ Holbrook Jackson, 1874 – 1948, British journalist, writer and publisher

Four and a half plus years after the publication of A House Near Luccoli, it’s heartening to receive such a beautifully written, in-depth, and engaging review from Margaret Panofsky, author of The Last Shade Tree set to be released this summer. Margaret is also a fine early music performer and dedicated director of The Teares of the Muses, The New York University Collegium Musicum Viol Consort.  It is, of course, especially satisfying to receive such a favorable response from someone so knowledgeable and involved with the music and masters of the early Baroque era.

I hope this review will spark your interest in reading A House Near Luccoli, if you haven’t already. The novel is available in paperback, Kindle, Audio Book and NOOK Book editions.

Peering into another era
By Margaret A. Panofsky, May 30, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

In “A House Near Luccoli,” DM Denton successfully blends the lives of a fictional female character with an existing historical figure to create a tale that is both believable and moving. The 17th-century Italian composer Alessandro Stradella is well enough known to those of us in the early-music field, although his works are under-appreciated today. However, in the Wikipedia article’s words, “He enjoyed a dazzling career as a freelance composer, writing on commission, and collaborating with distinguished poets, producing over three hundred works in a variety of genres.” When the story begins, Stradella has already committed a serious crime, bedded too many women, fled several cities in disgrace, and survived a near-fatal attack. He has also written quantities of amazing music, much of it sacred. Donatella, the fictional character, is hardly his type. And yet, a most unusual relationship, largely built on mutual respect, slowly evolves.

Denton demonstrates the depth of her research and her immersion in the period by depicting in detail a 17th-century household’s furnishings and daily rituals. The thoroughness of the description is especially appropriate since the no-longer-young Donatella is a virtual prisoner inside her own house. We can visualize the furniture, the food consumed, and the scrubbing, dusting, and scouring that go on in the dark, slightly musty and scruffy rooms off the staircase and hallways. We see the practical kitchen, and even a small walled garden, scented by citrus trees.

Denton’s subtle rendering of the “pecking order” in a class-conscious society is quite stunning, from the lowest of the servants, to fish sellers, to Donatella herself, to Stradella and the musicians he directs, and upward to the top-tier nobility. Of course, dominating each social class from low to high is the inevitably superior male. The members of these separate classes often rub shoulders, although they usually remain mindful of their pre-ordained positions in life.

Now we come to the crux of why Donatella’s character is so interesting, and from the outset, we are spared the typical feminist-heroine of historical fiction, annoyingly spunky and incongruously stuck in a period costume. True to her century, Donatella is not in an upwardly mobile social position, to say the least. She is not particularly beautiful, or, at her age, marriageable. She is not wealthy or a noblewoman. Rather, she is in stasis, genteelly trapped, living under the thumb of an authoritarian aunt while caring for her aged grandmother, her cats, and a scrappy household. When Stradella appears on the scene, she begins to use talents she hardly knew she had, and without guile or flirtatiousness, she fascinates the libertine composer through her goodness and honesty. In spite of his bad-boy reputation, Stradella treats this modest woman, a hidden romantic, with unusual deference.

The long sentences made up of multiple clauses separated by many commas bothered me at first, and occasionally I had to reread them to grasp the content. But after a while, I fell under the spell of Denton’s unique style. The overall effect is gauzy, like peering into another era obscured by the haze of centuries. But upon closer examination, I sensed steely precision. These sentences and paragraphs are a paean to Italian baroque architecture—outwardly flamboyant, but powerfully robust, the clauses curling back upon themselves. Her collage-like cover illustrations also embody the delicacy and strength of the novel.

This review has been posted on Amazon.com, Goodreads, and Barnesandnoble.

Margaret Panofsky has been a director and faculty member for numerous workshops and has played with many other ensembles. She performs frequently with the St. Michael’s Choir. Her New Bass Viol Technique was published in 2012, and an edition of Capricornus’s Ein Lämmlein, co-authored with Kent Underwood, appeared in 2015. Her degrees are from Stanford and the New England Conservatory. She is happy to announce a forthcoming science fantasy novel, The Last Shade Tree, to be published by All Things That Matter Press (lastshadetree.com).

 

Thank you so much, Margaret

and to all who visit this blog

and have supported my writing and creative endeavors!

 

A reminder: you can follow Donatella’s journey beyond A House Near Luccoli … To A Strange Somewhere Fled in its sequel, also available in paperback, Kindle, Audio Book and NOOK book editions.

 

And I invite you to add your name to may email list for new of my further publications, like my upcoming Without the Veil Between, Anne Bron: A Fine and Subtle Spirit, due out later in 2017.

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Book Review: Rachel’s Children: Surviving the Second World War

Rachels Children Book CoverI was long overdue to read this important and relevant book by Jean Rodenbough, published by All Things That Matter Press in 2010.

I give it 5 Stars!

Rachel’s Children: Surviving the Second World War is a powerful collection of essays recalling World War II from the global viewpoint of children and young adults who lived through the upheavals, separations, uncertainties, adjustments, fear, devastation, inhumanity, and loss inflicted on all who found themselves, directly and indirectly, in its path. Even without the statistic noted in its opening pages, that in today’s conflicts 95 – 98% of the casualties are civilians, reading these very personal accounts of growing up through the war to end all wars made it all the more horrendous that as a result of adult megalomania, greed, hatred, and divisiveness, children are still dying, disabled, scared and scarred, displaced by the destruction of their homes, and otherwise exiled from life by the dissolution of their possibilities.

Despite the despair any reminder of this ongoing consequence of violence effects, I felt that inherent in Ms. Rodenbough’s purpose for this book was a desire to touch hearts and consciences through the hope and promise of war’s smallest and most blameless casualties and witnesses.

Reading this book reminded me of how personal lives, social conditions, cultural and religious distinctions, but also the commonalities of the human experience, are vital in any historical narrative. We cannot realize and learn from history if it doesn’t breathe fragilely and resiliently. Ken Burns has done this with his filmed documentaries, which offer discourses of history that are informative and emotive, recognize the significance of the seemingly insignificant, enlarge understanding, and bridge divides. Ms. Rodenbough has achieved something similarly effective through the gathering and presenting of these real-life stories, including her own as a child living in very close proximity to the bombing of Pearl Harbor, at the time her father a pathologist serving at the Tripler Army Hospital in Honolulu. It was a very wise decision to let the reminiscences in this volume speak for themselves as they happened and in retrospection, and embrace them with the wisdom, spirituality, and compassion in her poetic voice.

We can always increase our knowledge of history, even when we think we know. When I went to England in the 1970s, I thought I had learned all I needed to about World War II through school, the stories of my father who had served in the Aleutian islands, my mother who had friends who lost brothers and fathers, and, of course, various film depictions. Then my British in-laws, as well as friends and colleagues described their experiences of German planes flying over, of seeing the sky light up when Coventry Cathedral was bombed, and of running for their lives into air raid shelters. I even lived in a Georgian house enlarged to lodge children evacuated from the bombings in London. I felt the energy of homesickness and uncertainty and, yes, even adventure, and couldn’t help but wonder what it must have been like for children to face separation from family and friends, familiar schools and streets, all the time worrying about those they had left behind in harm’s way and wondering when and if they would return to life as they once knew it.

Rachel’s Children has now given me an even wider perspective on the effect World War II in particular and all wars have on children. It took me on a rollercoaster of condemnation and admiration, heartache and hope, and made me feel even stronger that the travesties of war have the most chance of being ended not by the oldest and most militarily and politically powerful, but by the youngest and most present and farsighted among us.

“Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” ~ John F. Kennedy

 

Rachel’s Children: Surviving the Second World War is available in Paperback and Kindle Editions.

Jean RodenboughJean Rodenbough is a retired Presbyterian minister, active in church and community, and in writers’ organizations. She lives in North Carolina with husband Charles, who is also a writer. Their four children and families all live in nearby. They have a Beagle-Jack Russell, Katie, who gives them a hard time.
Please visit her blog: jeansblender

and amazon.com page where you will find links to her other fine publications, including Bebe & Friends, Tails of Rescue, and a poetry anthology, Tree

 

© 2016 Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Music, Passionate Lyricism, and Small Strides

I make small strides. Perhaps I am really moving forward. Like the tortoise. Although, on frustrating days, I feel like the March hare (noted for its hare-graphicsfairy006bwleaping, boxing, and chasing in circles).

It was a struggle to get the Historical Novel Society to review my first published novel A House Near Luccoli. In the end, that review was a very good one and appeared on the HNS’ website, but not in their quarterly print Historical Novel Review magazine.

To A Strange Somewhere Fled has found a smoother path to a HNS review, which is now online and will appear in the August edition of the Historical Novel Review. Thank you to the HNR editor Sarah Johnson who has made this experience so much better the second time around. So there, in itself, is a little step forward that will, hopefully, lead to more readers of both novels.

The reviewer, fellow author Susan McDuffle, had not read A House Near Luccoli, but was able to appreciate the style and understand the essence of its sequel. I find that in itself a great compliment. A sequel really needs to be able to stand on its own as much as possible.

I need to be proud of my accomplishments, as should all who persevere and produce writing, art, or anything to the best of their ability with the intent of adding something positive to this often demoralizing world; especially when it involves endless hours, months, years, and times when giving up seems the more sane thing to do. I usually hide my struggles very well in my writing and pretty pictures; I don’t like to bare my soul directly or complain publicly; I don’t want to appear ungrateful for the blessings in my life. But I have had to deal with some issues lately, things that don’t allow for an easy inner peace, or, at least, challenge my ability to stay in a higher place despite hurt and disappointment weighing me down.

One of my greatest blessings is my editor/publisher Deb Harris of All Things That Matter Press; there isn’t any doubt that our professional and personal relationship has made me a much better writer, but, also, has continually heartened and strengthened me in all ways.  I hope she knows that I hold her in my heart everyday and return the unconditional and enduring love she offers me. She shared this quote with me recently (lions are so much in the consciousness right now, but the following words are almost the opposite of what the cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz is told – or, perhaps, it is more a case of the circular motion – connectedness – of all things, which takes me back to that March hare analogy):

You cannot be truthful if you are not courageous. You cannot be loving if you are not courageous. You cannot be trusting if you are not courageous. You cannot enter into reality if you are not courageous. Hence courage comes first… and everything else follows. ~ Osho

Here is an excerpt from the Historical Novel Society’s review of To A Strange Somewhere Fled. Please follow the link to read it in its entirety, and, remember, writers need readers, and, when readers enjoy their work, reviews and recommendations to other readers.

f0da9-strange2bsomewhere

Music and passionate lyricism inform this book. Denton’s style of writing is poetic and musical itself, perhaps at times challenging to readers used to a more straightforward narrative; the book lingers in the mind like some elusive and beautiful tune heard through open windows on a summer’s day. ~ read entire review …

Angel Cloud_pe 2

Portion of To A Strange Somewhere Fled Cover Illustration Copyright 2015 by DM Denton

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back tobardessdmdenton. Thank you.

DM Denton Book Launch Pages: Book trailers, Synopsis, Reviews, Buy Links, and more all in one place!

House+cover+front[2]A House Near Luccoli

 

 

f0da9-strange2bsomewhereTo A Strange Somewhere Fled

 A Friendship with FlowersA Friendship with Flowers

My Review of “Never Be At Peace” by M.J. Neary

Never Be At PeaceNever Be At Peace by M. J. Neary (published by Fireship Press)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Once more Marina Julia Neary has proven she is an expansive writer, adept at handling a multitude of characters with honesty and imagination, intelligence and wit, engagement but also objectivity. Ms. Neary is ambitious and alert like a spider spinning a sticky web connecting many storylines into a saga spanning nearly forty years replete with twists of fate, theatrical egos, sexual maneuverings, impetuous love affairs, misbegotten off-spring, and impassioned if ambiguous conflicts in the protracted fight for Ireland’s independence that made history for textbooks and neglect.

As large as Ms. Neary’s storytelling is, it remains intimate and nuanced throughout with enjoyable and often insightful descriptions of the characters’ appearance and dress, what and even how they eat, their mannerisms and quirks, the places they haunt, and all kinds of details that make them real, ridiculous, amusing, talented and tragic but never larger than life. Yeats, Maud Gonne, Countess Constance Marckiewicz, James Connolly and any number of legendary individuals are drawn irresistibly conscionable and culpable, but not more so than the novel’s lesser-known figures—such as the feminist, activist, journalist and actress, Helena Molony.

Never Be At Peace pauses and moves along with verbose dialogue and distinct staging, unfolding with various personal and public dramas as though they are equally significant (and insignificant?); at least with the sense that they may be separated in dry facts but not in the human context of historic events. The informational aspect to Ms. Neary’s approach to historical fiction is more about style than didacticism. If it teaches anything, it is that nothing is what it seems—especially not history or heroism, loyalty or love.

Although writing about a similar progression of events as in her previous novel, Martyrs and Traitors, Ms. Neary has skillfully created a newly compelling story that has the reader forgetting they have been there before. Just as in life, so much is in the eye of the beholder. Never Be At Peace, despite its distractions and detours, is Helena Molony’s story: a testament to her courage and stumbling on her personal and civic passage through life, allowing the reader to breathe with relief for her vulnerability, forgive her “mistakes” and hope for a renewal of the vitality of her purpose. Yet, even as the novel represents Helena’s specific journey it highlights the experience of many women born or somehow persuaded to take outstanding roles in society, in relationships and even revolutions.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Read this review on amazon.com

Hope 2015 is getting off to a positive start for all!

Goodreads Giveaway!

I’m giving away one signed copy of my novel, A House Near Luccoli, which is actually two in one! Whoever wins this *giveaway will also be sent a signed copy of the sequel, To A Strange Somewhere, on its release early in 2015. Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A House Near Luccoli by D.M. Denton

A House Near Luccoli

by D.M. Denton

Giveaway ends December 31, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

*This Giveaway is open to Goodreads members in the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Isle of Man, The Netherlands, Italy, and South Africa.

Review by Barbara Rogers, By the Sea

“She might have found comfort in making the most of it, like her cats sharing the day’s last sunlight, one small splash from the sea’s horizon to the edge of the carpet’s shore.”

A House Near Luccoli is full of such lovely and lyrical prose, which gently transports the reader to 17th century Genoa, Italy. Taking in the author’s wonderful words, one can almost smell the gardens and sachets, taste the food and wine, feel the summer heat, see the musical notes being carefully transcribed, the sunshine glittering on the ocean, and hear the exquisite music. About a year ago we went to a concert, The Passion of the Italian Baroque, at the Amherst Early Music Festival, and heard beautiful performances with various combinations of the viol, violin, violone, recorder, flute, two oboes, cello, and three harpsichords. And a soprano sang along on a couple of pieces. Memories of the sound of that baroque music made reading the story of the colorful composer Alessandro Stradella and the restless Donatella all the more vivid in my mind.

Read more reviews here.

 Hope all are having a gentle and productive December so far.

My Review of Montpelier Tomorrow

Montpelier Tomorrow was written by fellow All Things That Matter Press author, Marylee MacDonald. Here is my 5-star review:

An Important Story about Coping with Adversity

Montpelier TomorrowAt its most obvious, ‘Montpelier Tomorrow’ is about a family’s struggle with one of their own being diagnosed with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and the demanding caregiving and improvised coping that ensues. Even with all the publicity this incurable progressive disorder has recently received, this book’s ability to reach out might have been limited in its appeal to those who had specific experience of ALS or some other chronic neurological condition such as MS. However, it has so much more to offer than a discourse on the ravages of ALS. Written from the heart with intelligence and honesty, a touch of the everyday on almost every page, wit tempering the harshness of the subject, vulnerability and frustration given as much attention as the call to strength and sacrifice; this very readable book speaks to the reality and challenges of sustaining relationships with family and friends despite–to borrow a concept from Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath–life’s jerks.

Through lithe storytelling Ms. MacDonald’s narrative tackles the feelings and behavior that rise out of the sense of powerlessness illness can evoke, as well as conflicts that may never have a chance for complete resolution. It addresses the material, emotional and even conscionable resources that affect each one’s ability to cope with adversity–how some grit their teeth and do things that have to be done and others avoid the nitty-gritty of the situation. No judging going on, though. By her own admission (in an interview with the Literary Fiction Book Review), Ms. MacDonald says she writes to be a “storyteller not a preacher” and throughout the book she remains true to that objective. She handles all aspects of the story without pretension or sentimentality and offers a compellingly sincere personal perspective.

The book’s narrator, Colleen, mother-in-law of the ALS sufferer, is independent, forthright, loyal and forgiving. For anyone who has ever had to relinquish their own routine or goals as a caregiver, she is relieving to identify with because she doesn’t play the martyr or mask her grief, desire and irritation, or hide her human frailties from others and herself. However, she is honorable and strives to love unconditionally and pragmatically, to give herself over to caring for and understanding her daughter, sons, son-in-law, grandchildren, students and even strangers such as a young unwed mother, while realizing she has to honor her own needs and forge ahead with fulfilling them in whatever way is still viable.

The ending offers the unexpected in terms of what is about to be lost: the end of life looming for us all at every moment, but, also, the possibilities for how it will go on.

I highly recommend Montpelier Tomorrow, which is available in Paperback and Kindle editions.

Read review on Amazon.

Check out Marylee MacDonald’s blog.

 

Announcement: I have created a 2015 Calendar, Of Two Artists. It will be available very soon. This is a standard size calendar more reasonably priced than the one I did last year and would make a very affordable gift to others or yourself!

Two artists, JM DiGiacomo (mother) and DM Denton (daughter), take your through the year with their naturalistic, impressionistic and even playful artwork. D M Denton, novelist and poet, offers sublime reflections on each month.

Cover Image for Website etc

If you are interested in being notified of its availability, please click here to contact me.  At the same time, let me know if you are interested in being notified of the release date of the sequel to A House Near Luccoli: To A Strange Somewhere Fled. I just received promising news that it should be available early in 2015.

Here is an excerpt from a pre-publication review by Deborah Bennison of Bennison Books of To A Strange Somewhere Fled:

To A Strange Somewhere Fled Header with cover image circle-cropped resizedIn this beautifully realized sequel to A House Near Luccoli, the author once again effortlessly blends the vividly imagined fictional character Donatella with real-life historical figures and settings to create a world that is as beguiling as it is believable.

We are invited to follow Donatella’s progress as she faces a very different future from the one she had begun to imagine for herself – without the quixotic musical genius who reawakened her passions and zest for life, the 17th century Italian composer, Alessandro Stradella.

This is a subtle, understated exploration of love and lost possibility and there are no easy answers or conventional happy endings … Donatella, her heart awoken and then broken, remains ‘another man’s secret’. She can perhaps reveal herself again, but surrender has many guises.

Scrupulously researched and historically accurate, the novel immerses the reader in its historical period. That we can meet Purcell within these pages and find him totally believable as a living, breathing human being is a mark of the author’s imaginative powers and literary skill. There are, appropriately enough, no false notes to be found.

If you haven’t read A House Near Luccoli yet, there is still time before the release of its sequel. It’s available in Paperback (now 12% off on Amazon), Kindle, NOOK Book, and audio editions. If you’re interested in a signed copy, please contact me as that can certainly be arranged.

A Friendship with Flowers Kindle CoverAnd please excuse one more note of self-promotion: a reminder that A Friendship with Flowers is now available in Kindle edition.

As always, thanks for your interest and support. Sharing my passion for writing, art and however creativity wishes to express itself through me continues to be a blessing whether it reaches out to one or many.

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

As a Moth to a Flame

New 5 Star Review of my novel, A House Near Luccoli:

Full Cover ImageImagine yourself a woman caring for a beloved grandmother and under the thumb of a domineering aunt. Imagine yourself in Genoa in the late seventeenth century, a woman circumscribed by being a woman in an era when women’s single role was to get married and have children. One of the most reliable story plots begins like this: A stranger comes to town. And so begins Diane Denton’s novel. The stranger is Stradella, famed Baroque composer, a roue driven from other towns and settling here, in a house with three women and a sexy young servant. Which one will bed him? Will he seduce rich women and make himself persona non grata here as well? Or has he come her to make, not mischief, but music? Will the sound of that music spill down into the grandmother’s bedroom, a private concert, and will Stradella somehow come to know that Donatella, the thirtiesh spinster, is musically trained and could be of great help to her?

I love historical novels and any story that features a genius and the person who stands behind the genius: a muse, an amanuesis, a lover. Back in late seventeenth century Genoa, inevitably, that person would have been a woman. When Stradella, the feted Baroque composer, takes up residence in her house, Donatella is drawn to him as a moth to flame. The minuet of their attraction and our curiosity about whether the famous Stradella will recognize her gifts kept me reading from the first page to the last. The sentences in this poetic and evocative novel will echo long after you finish the story, but like poetry, you may find yourself slowing down to savor the whispers and stand, for just a minute, at the open window. If you like THE GIRL WITH THE PEARL EARRING (book or movie), you will love this book.

~ Marylee MacDonald, author of Montpelier Tomorrow and other publications.

Read review on Goodreads

Thank you, Marylee, for this beautifully written review!

Every day is one closer to the release of the sequel,

 To A Strange Somewhere Fled.

Copyright 2014 by DM Denton

Copyright 2014 by DM Denton

In the meantime, my imagination is my memory.

My writing moves forwards and backwards

to explore past lives,

Anne Brontë,

the nature of things,

and my endless love of cats …

 

donatellasmallest©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.