- 4,99 €
Paul Cohen’s sumptumous debut novel captures the high drama and low dealings that lie behind the polished facade of fin de siecle New York.
He sang for his life
She lived for his love
Mario Alfieri is the world's greatest tenor. He is also, if rumours are to be believed, the world's greatest lover. When he arrives in New York in 1894 to prepare for his first season at the Metropolitan Opera House, all Manhattan is aflame with excitement. Society hostesses compete for Alfieri's company. Everybody wants to hear him sing. Success, it seems, is assured. Until he meets Clara Adler. This bewitching orphan lives in the mansion of her late guardian, penniless, friendless and alone except for the unwelcome attentions of Thaddeus Chadwick, the lawyer who controls the estate. Mario and Clara fall hopelessly in love. But Chadwick is determined to keep Clara for himself and will stop at nothing to destroy all that Mario and Clara hold most dear. As Clara faces the unforgiving gaze of a world astonished that she has snared its most eligible bachelor, she is forced to confront her own dark secret and unravel the mysteries of a past she has tried hard to forget.
‘Cohen sweeps the reader along with a racy plot’ Daily Telegraph
‘impeccably researched -the late 19th century fashionalbe world of New York is absolutely convincing – and stylishly written, with a power that sweeps the reader along…an impressive debut.’ The Historical Novels Review
‘The romance wil make you swoon and the dramatic plot will keep you on the edge of your seat. Fantastic!’ New Woman
‘The plot is lively and plausible; it moves quickly with brio, and the writing is highly assured.’ Good Book Guide
About the author
Paula Cohen has been a passionate Victorian for as long as she can remember, and has always been obsessed with opera. She lives with her husband and their cat. This is her first novel.
Smart, tender, witty and titillatingly libidinous, Cohen's debut fiction is a credit to the genre of the historical novel. Set in 1894 in the eponymous Manhattan enclave at a time when Mrs. Astor ruled New York society, the novel boasts vivid characters, both sublime and nasty, and a sly and absorbing plot embroidered with period details. Mario Alfieri, the great tenor recently arrived in America for his Metropolitan Opera debut, meets "the little Jewess," 19-year-old Clara Adler, recently bereft of the rich guardian in whose home she has been mysteriously cloistered for years, and deprived of his $30-million estate. Instantly smitten with the haunted, emotionally damaged Clara, Mario dedicates himself to her well-being and never wavers in his ardor. A strength of the plot is that Clara may doubt his loyalty, but the reader never does; there are no phony tensions here. Threat lies outside their made-in-heaven marriage: Mario and Clara have implacable enemies, the Dickensian duo of Thaddeus Chadwick and Lucy Pratt, vicious connivers with knowledge of secrets in Clara's past who would rather die than see the newlyweds happy. Cohen manages to convey the wrenching beauty of Mario's voice, in part by pitching the novel as Puccini might have. Clara doesn't sing, but she is the essence of soprano; Chadwick is the pompous baritone and Lucy Pratt the sluttish alto. While somewhat operatic in formula, the narrative succeeds as suspenseful drama.