Farewell My Life

Farewell My Life won the 2021 Independent Press Award for Women’s Fiction.

Award Winning Novel

Cynthia SallyHaggard, Award-winning author of Thwarted Queen writes a dark historical romance about a hidden murderer, set in 1920s and 1930s Berlin.

Farewell My Life is available in e-book, paperback and audiobook.

Author's Note

Hans Oster (1887-1945) was the leader of the Oster Conspiracy of 1938. This is how he looked around the time he met Grace.

Writing about vanishing, dissolving and the crumbling of comfortable lives, assumptions, and civilizations, it seemed appropriate to end Farewell My Life on 9 November 1938 when Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass erupted. This was a pogrom against the Jews living in Nazi Germany, carried out on the night of 9-10 November by paramilitary forces and German civilians. It is not known how many people died, but modern historians believe that it must have been in the hundreds, if not the thousands. Afterwards the Nazis arrested around thirty-thousand Jewish men and incarcerated them in concentration camps. The Final Solution had begun.

The Oster Conspiracy was one of around twenty attempts between 1934 and 1944 to assassinate Hitler and destroy the Nazis. It was foiled by the actions of Neville Chamberlain, who sought appeasement to prevent another war. I was fortunate in being able to find a recording from the BBC Sound Archives of Chamberlain’s return from Munich on 30 September 1938.

The First World War cast a long shadow over the 1920s and 1930s. Modernist ideas blew in on the winds of that devastating war, in which hundreds of thousands of young men perished. The figures are truly shocking. On the first day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, around sixty thousand men in the British army died. Much has been written about this battle and the trench warfare of the Western Front, a line of trenches that ran through the flat lands of north-east France into Belgium. The Italian Front is less well known, but the slaughter was just as senseless. The Italians and Austrians battled around Asiago in the Veneto and across the Isonzo and Piave rivers, in rough mountainous terrain in the foothills of the alps. 

In 1921, no man over the age of twenty-one remained unaffected by this war, and shattered survivors filled the streets of European capitals. During the war, a new illness emerged that we now call post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. In the 1920s, this illness was referred to variously as “neurasthenia” or “shell-shock.” The overwhelming number of maimed or dead young men compelled a generation of young women in Europe to forgo husbands.

The Treaty of Versailles of 1919 forced Germany to acknowledge responsibility for causing this war and pay reparations of 132 billion Marks (equivalent to about 442 billion dollars in today’s money). This sent Germany into an economic tailspin. The value of the Mark had declined during the war, going from about 4.2 Marks to the dollar at the beginning of the war in August 1914, to about 8.91 Marks to the dollar at the end of the war in November 1918. But this trend increased, beginning with the first reparation payments in June 1921 and continuing in 1922 and 1923. By November 1923, the Mark collapsed and the government introduced Rentenmarks to replace the worthless currency, where one dollar could buy 4.2 trillion Marks, and people piled wheelbarrows full of cash to buy a loaf of bread. The new currency commissioner Hjalmar Schacht, appointed at the end of 1923, accomplished the miracle of stabilizing the currency at the pre-war rate of 4.2 Marks to the dollar. But the price was a program of extreme austerity and a high jobless rate throughout the 1920s. Most historians now agree that the rise of Adolf Hitler in the 1920s can be directly tied to the economic desperation of millions of Germans. 

Nowadays, the 1920s is celebrated for its glamor and embrace of modernism, when young women shrugged off the restrictions of Victorian society, abandoning long skirts and tight stays for shorter, lighter modern clothes. Just how revolutionary this was can be gauged by looking at the archives of The Washington Post, where several inches of copy were spent in discussing women’s clothes in much the same way that people discuss iPads or iPhones today. But 1921 and 1922, when much of Farewell My Life is set, occurred before the rest of the 1920s, before the freedoms of the flapper era took hold. Those were the days when women still had to worry about their reputations, when it was still common for girls to marry in their late teens. The period of the early 1920s is equidistant between our time and that of Jane Austen (1775-1817), but in cultural terms it was much closer to her time.

Soldiers in full battle gear climb nearly vertical slopes during fighting on the Italian Front in the Julian Alps during World War One.
During the early 1920s, the Mark became so worthless in Germany that kids used stacks of it to play with, like lego blocks.
Here is an elegant lady, outfitted by Chanel, with an enormous muff & rather large dog. Notice how her right leg strains against her skirt. My grandmother (who turned 20 in 1914) told me this was a "hobble skirt" and I think you can see why it got that name. Very elegant. A walking outfit? Not so much...

Nowadays, the 1920s is celebrated for its glamor and embrace of modernism, when young women shrugged off the restrictions of Victorian society, abandoning long skirts and tight stays for shorter, lighter modern clothes. Just how revolutionary this was can be gauged by looking at the archives of The Washington Post, where several inches of copy were spent in discussing women’s clothes in much the same way that people discuss iPads or iPhones today. But 1921 and 1922, when much of Farewell My Life is set, occurred before the rest of the 1920s, before the freedoms of the flapper era took hold. Those were the days when women still had to worry about their reputations, when it was still common for girls to marry in their late teens. The period of the early 1920s is equidistant between our time and that of Jane Austen (1775-1817), but in cultural terms it was much closer to her time.

Perhaps the trickiest issue had to do with Angelina, and the way in which she lived her life and earned her money. Her choice of career reflected the relatively limited options experienced by a woman born in 1888. Such women worked in typing pools, or as telephone operators, or as nurses. But they wouldn’t have had access to more interesting careers such as being a doctor, lawyer, or architect, principally because women were barred from obtaining university degrees. For example, in the 1880s and 1890s, the University of London had a policy of allowing its female students to do all the work for a degree, without actually conferring the degree. 

Another barrier was that banks would not allow women to apply for loans. Any woman who wanted to open her own business was obliged to find a “patron,” who, in return for sexual favors, might advance her the cash. Aspects of Coco’s story in Farewell My Life are based on the true story of Coco Chanel (1883-1971). Etienne Balsan, Chanel’s first patron, relished her sexual favors but refused to help her earn her own money. Boy Capel, her second patron, saw behind the lovely profile, and appreciated her talent as an entrepreneur. She ran her first business, ladies’ hats, from his bachelor pad in Paris.

Like Coco Chanel, Angelina was a kept woman to a wealthy patron, a woman who kept her patron happy in part by her performance in bed. Although it seems hard to believe that such a woman would not have told her daughters anything about sex, that was a topic of conversation no one talked about openly. Before television and the Internet, the more sordid realities of life like sexual abuse, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy, and abortion were clouded in silence. Many blamed Angelina for not being a good mother, but she would have been blamed much more had she actually broached a topic of conversation about what a young woman’s wedding night entailed.

Angelina’s medical condition and her doctor’s treatment of it is based upon that of Karen Blixen (1885-1962), who is better known as the author Isak Dinesen. In the early 1920s, the standard treatments for abdominal pains and pelvic infections were still mercury and arsenic because doctors had nothing else to hand, penicillin not being discovered until 1928, and antibiotics not available until the early 1930s.

Young women in the 1920s. Notice how much easier it is to move in these outfits, that in the previous one (Lady with a Dog) of ten years earlier.
Vladimir Nabokov was a White Russian Emigre, who arrived in Berlin in 1922 and wrote several novels there (in Russian) including "Laughter in the Dark" aka "Camera Obscura" published in 1933.
Anita Berber (1899-1928) the Madonna of 1920s Berlin was an erotic dancer, who breakfasted on rose petals swirled in chloral hydrate. She was notorious for naked dancing and androgyny. To find out more, read "Voluptuous Panic" and "The Seven Addictions & Five Professions of Anita Berber" both by Mel Gordon. She died at the age of 29 from either severe tuberculosis, or substance abuse.

Another tricky issue was Russell’s relationship with Grace. The bible doesn’t forbid a relationship between half-uncle and half-niece, but many of my early readers balked. The thorniness of this issue and the secrecy it entails forms the spine of the first part of the novel, and comes back to bite Russell near the end. And so I elected to keep it, instead of making things easier for myself by having, for example, Angelina be Russell’s cousin, rather than his half-sister (as one reader suggested).

After the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, many from the east streamed into Berlin, including Jews, Hungarians, and Russians. So many Hungarians lived in Berlin at that time that it became known as the unofficial capital of Hungary. This was why I decided to make the Berlin landlady a Hungarian woman, rather than a German woman. I chose the name Varga (which means shoemaker) because it is easy to pronounce for English-speaking audiences. After the Communists overthrew the czar of Russia in 1917, Russian émigrés flooded into Berlin. It is true that previously wealthy Russian aristocrats fled with nothing but the clothes on their backs, and so the scene in which Violet and Grace encounter a Russian grand duke waiting tables would not have been uncommon in 1920s Berlin. Amongst those Russian émigrés coming to Berlin were the Nabokov family, including the celebrated novelist Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977), who wrote a number of novels during his time in Berlin, including King, Queen, Knave and Laughter in the Dark

It is true that Berlin had a drug culture. It is also true that there was a dancer called Anita Berber (1899-1928) who created dances based on her drug-inspired fantasies called the Morphine dance or the Cocaine dance. The activities and the settings I describe in the nightclub scene were true. (Some things you just can’t make up!) By the end of the 1920s, Berlin had acquired a solid reputation for homosexuality, avant-garde art, left-wing politics, jazz, and erotic cabaret. It is well-known that Adolf Hitler hated the place and after his ascent to power in January 1933, was determined to destroy the city’s culture.

I timed the early part of this novel to coincide with the movements of the well-known violin pedagogue, Carl Flesch (1873-1944), who held master classes at the Hochschule Für Musik, starting in February 1922, but who left in 1923 when the German Mark crashed. (He taught at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia.) Returning to Berlin in 1928, he left for good in 1933, when Adolf Hitler came to power. Josef Wolfstahl (1899-1931) who makes a cameo appearance in the scene where Grace plays in a quartet with Charles and Mabel Phelps, died at a young age of an operation that went wrong. My violin teacher, Nannie Jamieson (1904-1990), with whom I studied at the Guildhall School of Music in London, England, studied with both men in Berlin in the late 1920s and told me many stories about her time there.

I dedicate this novel to her memory and that of my first husband Theodore “Ted” Bogacz, who died tragically young in 1992 and taught me everything I know about the Great War. 

Spring 2019

My violin teacher Nannie Jamieson (1904-1990) at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London UK. This is how I remember her, full of vim & vigor. Her nickname was the Red Hot Magnet!
Theodore W. "Ted" Bogacz (1943-1992), my first husband at our wedding in 1982.


Chapter One

Italians mostly refer to Venice as Venezia. But the people from the Veneto call it Venexia in their local dialect

The piece that Russell plays on the piano by himself is the Italian Concerto by J. S. Bach.

The music that Angelina and Russell dance to is Tango by George Gershwin, composed 1915.

The music Grace and Russell play at their first meeting is Violin Sonata No. 2, in A major by Johannes Brahms, Opus 100, composed 1886.

Known in English as Raphael, Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino (1483-1520) was a painter of the Italian Renaissance.

Chapter Two

The piece that Grace practices in her bedroom as she thinks of Russell is the Siciliana from Violin Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001 by J. S. Bach composed 1720.

Chapter Three

The piece that Professor Burneys want Grace and Russell to try is Violin Sonata No. 3, in D minor by Johannes Brahms, Opus 108, composed between 1878 and 1888, First Movement.

Chapter Five

The pieces that Professor Burneys wants Grace to learn are Violin Concerto in D Major by Johannes Brahms, Opus 77, composed 1878; and Violin Concerto in D Major by Ludwig van Beethoven, Opus 61, composed 1806.

Chapter Six

Grazia Deledda (1871-1936) was an Italian writer who received the Nobel Prize in literature for writing that captured the struggles of the people of Sardinia, where she was from. La Grazia was published in 1921.

Alma Moodie (1900-1943) was an Australian violinist, regarded as the foremost violinist of her generation during the 1920s and 1930s. She won a scholarship to the Brussels Conservatory when she was a child. In 1919, she met Carl Flesch who took her on as his pupil. Flesh was later to write ‘amongst all the pupils in my course I liked Alma Moodie best.’

Institute of Musical Art in New York City, the predecessor to the Julliard School, was founded in 1905. The Juilliard School was not created until the mid 1920s.

Gazette du Bon Genre was a fashion magazine published in France from 1912 to 1925 and distributed in the United States by Condé Nast. The title roughly translates as “Journal of Good Style.”

Chapter Seven

The music Grace plays when she’s left alone at home, while Zia Paulina and Violet go to the funeral parlor is Quartet, Opus 33, No 3, by Josef Haydn, beginning, 1st violin part. Part of a series of six string quartets called the “Russian” quartets, it was composed in 1781.

Carl Flesch (1873-1944) was born in Hungary, began the violin at the age of seven, continued his studies in Vienna and Paris, and taught in a variety of places including Bucharest, Amsterdam, Berlin, and Philadelphia. In 1934, after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, he settled in London. He published a number of instructional books, including Die Kunst der Violin-Spiels (The Art of Violin Playing, 1923) and Das Skalensystem, (The System of Scales) published as a supplement to The Art of Violin Playing. Among his pupils were Bronislaw Gimpel, Ida Haendel, Alma Moodie, Ginette Neveu, Yfrah Neaman, Max Rostal, Henryk Szeryng, Roman Totenberg and Josef Wolfsthal.

The Spartacist uprising, also known as the January uprising, was a general strike in Germany from 4 to 15 January 1919. Similar uprisings occurred and were suppressed in Bremen, the Ruhr, Rhineland, Saxony, Hamburg, Thuringia and Bavaria, and another round of even bloodier street battles occurred in Berlin in March, which led to popular disillusionment with the Weimar Government. Russell’s news is about three years out of date.

Chapter Ten

The pieces that Grace plays for her audition with Professor Flesch are Adagio from Violin Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001 by J. S. Bach composed 1720; Violin Sonata No. 3, in D minor by Johannes Brahms, Opus 108, composed between 1878 and 1888; and First Movement.Rondo alla Turca from Violin Concerto No. 5 in A major, K. 219, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, composed in 1775.

Lette-Verein, where Violet goes to learn fashion design, means Lette Society. Pronounced LEH-tuh ver-RYN, it was founded in 1866 in Berlin by Dr. Wilhelm Adolf Lette, as a technical school for girls. There were classes for dressmaking, machine-sewing, the cutting-out of linen, the manufacture of artificial flowers, glove-making, millinery, and hair-dressing. The Lette-Verein received the support of influential members of German society, beginning with the Emperor and Empress. It is still located at Viktoria-Luise-Platz.

Kalócsa, pronounced kah-LOTCH-ah, is a town in the Southern Great Plain of Hungary, known for its paprikas.

Chapter Twelve

Otakar Ševčík, pronounced Oh-tah-kah SHEV-chick, (1852-1934) was a Czech violinist and influential teacher. He studied at the Prague Conservatory and began his career in 1870 as concertmaster of the Mozarteum in Salzburg. From 1875 to 1892 he was professor of violin at the Russian Music Society in Kiev. In 1892 he became head of the violin department at the Prague Conservatory. In 1909, he became director of the Violin Department at the Vienna Music Academy, until 1918, when his nationality forced him to leave his position.

Rodolphe Kreutzer (1766-1831) was a French violinist, teacher, conductor, and composer. Born in Versailles, he was initially taught by his German father, who was a musician in the royal chapel. He became one of the foremost violin virtuosos of his day, and is best known as the dedicatee of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata No. 9, Op. 47 (1803), though he never played the work, declaring it unplayable and incomprehensible. He was a violin professor at the Conservatoire de Paris from its foundation in 1795 until 1826. He was co-author of the Conservatoire’s violin method with Pierre Rode and Pierre Baillot, and the three are considered the founding trinity of the French school of violin playing. He was well known for his style of bowing, his splendid tone, and the clearness of his execution. His best-known work is the collection of 42 études ou caprices (42 Études or Capriccios, 1796) which are fundamental pedagogic studies.

Professor Josef Wolfstahl (1899-1931) taught at the Hochschule Für Musik (Technical School for Music) in Berlin. Not much is known about his life, except that he produced a beautiful sound, and that he died tragically young of an operation gone wrong. It is possible that he did not become a professor at the Music School until the late twenties, but I couldn’t find anything definitive about that. I decided to give him a cameo role in my novel because he taught my own violin teacher, Nannie Jamieson.

Professor Wolfstahl speaks French to his students. Even German professors would have had a smattering of French to deal with the international students, which was the diplomatic language of the day. After the Second World War, English became much more prevalent.

The music is Quartet Opus 33, No. 6 by Josef Haydn, composed 1781.

Chapter Fifteen

Graslitz, Bohemia, now Kraslice in the Czech Republic, is one hundred miles west of Prague.

Welchau, Bohemia, now Velichov in the Czech Republic, is eighty-two miles west of Prague.

Posen, Prussia, now Poznań in Poland, is about 170 miles east of Berlin.

Chapter Twenty

Louis XV, King of France reigned from 1710 to 1774. The Louis XV style, or Louis Quinze, is a French rococo style of furniture, decorative arts, and architecture.

Chapter Twenty-Three

L’incendio nell’oliveto: The Fire in the Olive Grove, a novel published in 1918 by Grazie Deledda.

Chapter Twenty-Six

All biblical quotations are taken from the King James bible.

And of his fullness have we all received, Grace for grace. John 1:16.

In my Father’s house are many rooms. John 14:2. King James says: “In my Father’s house are many mansions,” but I have kept the more modern translation, as it makes more sense.

I am the way, the truth and the life. John 14:6.

The light shineth in the darkness. John 1:5

The true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. John 1:9

Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee. Psalm 55:22.

For by Grace are ye saved through faith. Ephesians 2:8.

As you sow, so shall you reap. Galations 6:7.

That you love one another as much as I have loved you. John 13: 34-35.

Chapter Twenty-Seven 

The Sudetenland comprised the northern, southwest, and western areas of Czechoslovakia, specifically those border districts of Bohemia, Moravia, and parts of Silesia, which were originally part of Austria-Hungary until the end of the First World War and were therefore inhabited by people of German ancestry who spoke German.

Technische Hochschule: Literally translated as “Technical High School”, this was actually a university-level technical institute, comparable with MIT.

Chapter Twenty-Nine 

The Blücher Palace on Pariser Platz, was purchased in 1930 as a new and permanent home for the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, but before it could be converted for embassy use, a fire damaged the building. Money shortages in America, due to the Depression, and soured relations with the Nazi régime (after 1933) delayed its refurbishment. In fact Ambassador William Dodd (1869-1940), assigned to Berlin from 30 August 1933 to 29 December 1937, asked the State Department not to rebuild on the site because Hitler used Pariser Platz as a Nazi showcase for rallies and marches. In the meantime the embassy operated in the Tiergarten area on Stauffenbergstrasse (then known as Bendlerstrasse). The temporary location was Bendlerstrasse 39, just down the street from the Bendler Block (Bendlerstrasse 13-14) where the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (Supreme Command of the Armed Forces), the Oberkommando des Heeres (Supreme Command of the German Army), and the Abwehr (German Intelligence) were located.

U.S. Ambassador Hugh R. Wilson (1885-1946) was stationed in Berlin from 3 March 1938 to 16 November 1938. Hitler was delighted when Dodd left and Wilson was appointed in his place, as he knew Wilson to be an admirer. Wilson also coined the phrase ‘a pretty good club’ when describing the Foreign Service.

William Phillips (1878-1968) was assistant secretary of state before being posted to Luxembourg, and under secretary of state before being posted to Rome. He was the American ambassador to Rome from 4 November 1936 to 6 October 1941.

Mährisch Östrau or Moravian Östrau, is now a city in the Czech Republic called Ostrava.

Chapter Thirty 

Ratibor is Racibórz, in Silesia, Poland.

Cosel is Kędzierzyn-Koźle in Poland. 

Carl Friedrich Goerdeler (1884-1945) was a monarchist conservative German politician, executive, economist, civil servant and opponent of the Nazi régime.

Nevile Henderson (1882-1942) was a British diplomat and Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Nazi Germany from 1937 to 1939.

Anschluss is the takeover of Austria by Nazi Germany in March 1938.

Hans Oster (1887-1945) was a general in the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany who was also a leading figure of the German resistance from 1938 to 1943.

der Nacht der langen Messer is the Night of Long Knives, 30 June 1934, when Hitler launched a purge, in which he murdered around eighty-five people, to consolidate his hold on power.

Austrian Corporal refers to Adolf Hitler, who was born in Braunau am Inn in Austria-Hungary (present-day Austria). He moved to Munich as a young man, and due to an administrative error, served in the Bavarian army rather than the Austrian army during the First World War. He was decorated for bravery, receiving the Iron Cross First Class in 1918.

Chapter Thirty-One

Wilbur J. Carr (1870-1942) was U.S. Ambassador to Prague from 13 July 1937 to 6 April 1939.

Edvard Beneš, pronounced BEH-nesh, (1884-1948) served as President of Czechoslovakia from 1935 to 1938. Before that he was Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Chapter Thirty-Two

Erwin von Witzleben (1881-1944) was a German officer and army commander in the Second World War. 

Franz-Maria Liedig (1900-1967) was a naval officer and member of the military resistance against Adolf Hitler.

Chapter Thirty-Three

Ewald von Kleist-Schmenzin (1890-1945) was a German lawyer, a conservative politician, and opponent of Nazism.

Chapter Thirty-Four

William Shirer (1904-1993) was an American journalist and war correspondent. He became known for his broadcasts from Berlin, from the rise of the Nazi dictatorship through the first year of World War II.

Neville Chamberlain (1869-1940)  was a British Conservative politician who served as prime minister of the United Kingdom from May 1937 to May 1940.

Benito Mussolini (1883-1945) was an Italian politician. Known as Il Duce (The Leader), Mussolini was the founder of Italian Fascism. 

Édouard Daladier (1884-1970) was a French politician and the prime minister of France at the start of the Second World War. 

Anthony Eden (1897-1977) was a British Conservative politician who served three periods as Foreign Secretary and then a relatively brief term as prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1955 to 1957. 

Harold Nicolson (1886-1968) was a British diplomat, author, diarist and politician. He was the husband of writer Vita Sackville-West. 

Leo Amery (1873-1955) was a British Conservative Party politician and journalist, noted for his opposition to appeasement. 

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was a British statesman who was the prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill was also an officer in the British army, a non-academic historian, and a writer (as Winston S. Churchill). He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 for his overall, lifetime body of work. In 1963, he was the first of only eight people to be made an honorary citizen of the United States. 

Edward Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax (1881-1959) was one of the most senior British conservative politicians of the 1930s. He held several senior ministerial posts during this time, most notably those of viceroy of India from 1925 to 1931 and of foreign secretary between 1938 and 1940.

Chapter Thirty-Five

Teschen is divided into two towns, Cieszyn, Poland and Český Těšín, Czech Republic.

Freistadt is Fryštát in the Czech Republic.

Chapter Thirty-Six

Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass) was a pogrom against Jews throughout Nazi Germany on 9–10 November 1938. The name Kristallnacht comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after the windows of Jewish-owned stores, and synagogues were smashed. 


The Lady Vanishes is a British thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock. It was released in London on 7 October 1938.


This book took me ten years to write. I could not have done it without the help of many people. The first person who deserves thanks is my fabulous editor Catherine Adams, founder of Inkslinger Editing, for her work in giving this manuscript what I hope is a polished, professional feel. Any mistakes are my own.

Tim Barber of Dissect Designs deserves credit for his outstanding cover design for Farewell My Life.

I was privileged to take classes with many excellent teachers during my journey with Farewell. I wish to thank my mentors at Lesley University: Rachel Kadish, Christina Shea, and Tony Eprile, who demanded that I make this manuscript the best that it can be. I also would also like to thank A. J. Verdelle for giving me the tools to polish this manuscript via her class on manuscript revision, given at Lesley during the June 2014 residency. 

Lesley University in Cambridge Massachusetts. I spent a wonderful 2 years there enjoying their lo-res MFA program in Creative Writing.
Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier VT, where I took a post-graduate workshop with the wonderful Ann Hood during the summer of 2016.

I also wish to thank Ann Hood, author of The Book That Matters Most for her discussion of Italian-American families at the 2016 VCFA Postgraduate Workshop; Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage, for her incisive reading of the novel during the 2012 Napa Valley Writer’s Workshop; Elise Capron from the Dijkstra Agency for her suggestions at the 2015 Squaw Valley Workshop; Jon Sternfeld, then of the Irene Goodman Agency, for his astute comments on the first thirty pages of the manuscript during the 2011 Unicorn Writer’s Conference; and Terri Valentine, author of Louisiana Caress, for her class “Revision and Self-Editing,” given during the spring of 2011.

I would like to thank my wonderful friends, Beth Franks, Robin Shuster, Nick Dennerly, Pegg Nadler and Sophie Spinelle for offering their wisdom on various aspects of this novel.

Richard Wetzel and the staff of the Goethe Institut of Washington, D.C., initiated my research on Berlin in the 1920s, and my friend Jeremiah Riemer, helped with the timing of my novel, so that poor Grace would not have arrived in Berlin in 1919 just as the Spartacists were shooting at everything in sight.

I received a great deal of help and kindness from various people whom I met in Berlin during a research trip made in May-June 2012. They include the staff of the Grisebach Villa on Fasanenstrasse in Berlin for giving me a copy of their catalog and for allowing me to visit and take photographs, as well as the staff of the Universität der Künste Berlin (formerly known at the Hochschule Für Musik), who answered numerous questions and also allowed me to walk around and take pictures so that I could accurately depict Grace’s music school. 

The following writers deserve thanks for reading the manuscript and making useful suggestions: Kristin Abkemeyer, Dena Afrasiabi, Michael Badger, Sally Bensusen, Adam Brickley, Peter Brown, Andrea Caswell, Sara Clark, Marina Cobbs, Emily Cohen, Valerie Cousins, Katie Cotugno, William Craig, Shane Delaney, Stephane Dunn, Curt Eriksen, David Everett, Kendra Fish, Christian Garbis, Chuck Glenn, Ruth Hanham, Samantha Heuertz, Chas Jackson, Michael Jeffrey, Rebecca Jeschke, David Langness, Gene Leutkemeyer, Dulce Lopez, Sage Kalmus, Jill Kelly, Michelle Kouzmine, Anu Krishnaswamy, Katherine Lim, Tina Manousakis, Phil Margolies, Michelle McGurk, Angela McIntyre, Celeste Mohammed, Joe Oppenheimer, Jodi Paloni, Dave Powers, Julia Rappaport, Laura Remington, Linda Stewart, Steffanie Triller, David Tucholski, Gina Ventre, Whitney Watson, Ben Werner, Margaret Wilkerson, Tom Wood, and Monica Zarazua.

Trudy Hale of the Porches Writing Retreat in Nelson County, Virginia, welcomed me and gave me space in her charming cottage to write the ending of the novel.

Last but not least, I wish to thank my husband, Georges Rey, for prodding me to continue with Grace and for giving me the space to work.

Grisebach Villa on Fasanenstrasse in Berlin. This home was the inspiration for Aunt Louisa's mansion on Savignyplatz.

The Pagano family from Marostica, the Veneto, in North-East Italy

The Pagano Family from Marostica, the Veneto, in NE Italy.