There was a moment where Isabette plays one of her own compositions for her mother, moving her to an emotional keel whilst realising she couldn’t relate the true origins of who composed it afterwards. It spoke to the heart of the story, where Isabette felt a bit trapped by her gender and the traditional viewings of musicians being led by men. She was able to break through that absurdity if only for a brief reprieve but to truly breach it, it would take more than she felt she had to give.
This is where I believe Cram did a wonderful job at endearing us to Isabette – showing us how hard she strove for peer acceptance for her abilities whilst giving us a firm back-story on the tone of Vienna during a time where there were too many musicians and not enough avenues for them all to become employed.
– quoted from my review of A Woman of Note by Carol M. Cram
This is a true treasure for historical fiction writers who have a deep appreciation for Music History and Classical Music – the composers and compositions are happily alive in this story by Carol M. Cram! So much so, I wanted to ask the author several questions relating to how she composed the story itself and how she knitted together the realistic counterparts of the persons who lived during this time in Austrian history.
She found a balance between where the fictional world of Isabette thrives and the real counterplay of what was happening to both composers and performers of music during this era – it was a swelling sea of talent without a lot of platforms to launch a career, as everyone was vying for the same opportunities at the same time. It was a very convicting narrative in how you get tucked inside the emotional journey of Isabette whilst seeing how she was pitted against the men who despite their indifference to her talent, were not always on equal ground to her abilities. There was a large discrepancy between who had the natural insight into how the notes were composed and who was merely making it by the skin of their teeth.
I like settling inside stories of this nature because they bring the fullness of music to the forefront whilst giving us a heart-centered story focusing on how much courage it takes to realise your dreams. Cram gave me a story I enjoyed reading and a conversation which answers the most pulsing questions I had whilst I was reading her novel. I look forward to seeing your comments and hope you find equal enjoyment in reading where the conversation took us.
Virtuoso pianist Isabette Grüber captivates audiences in the salons and concert halls of early nineteenth-century Vienna. Yet in a profession dominated by men, Isabette longs to compose and play her own music—a secret she keeps from both her lascivious manager and her resentful mother. She meets and loves Amelia Mason, a dazzling American singer with her own secrets, and Josef Hauser, an ambitious young composer. But even they cannot fully comprehend the depths of Isabette’s talent.
Her ambitions come with a price when Isabette embarks on a journey that delicately walks the line between duty and passion. Amid heartbreak and sacrifice, music remains her one constant. With cameos from classical music figures such as Chopin, Schubert, and Berlioz, A Woman of Note is an intricately crafted and fascinating tale about one woman’s struggle to find her soul’s song in a dissonant world.
How did you find a segue window into the musical past to allow Isabette to come alive against the pages of your novel “A Woman of Note”?
Cram responds: “A Woman of Note” draws upon my love of classical music and the piano. I’ve been playing the piano since I was five years old and although I will never be a concert pianist like Isabette in the novel, I get a great deal of pleasure out of my daily practice. After I finished my first novel, “The Towers of Tuscany,” about a fictional woman artist in 14th Century Tuscany, I realized that I really wanted to carry on exploring themes related to women in the arts. My love of music led me naturally to creating a character who plays the piano and composes. I chose the 19th century because most of the music I play was composed between about 1780 and 1850. I am a huge fan of Beethoven, Haydn, Schubert, Chopin, and Mozart, to name just a few of the biggest names. As a result of my research for “A Woman of Note,” I also discovered amazing compositions by women composers from the same period, most notably Clara Schumann and Fanny Mendelsohn.
My third novel “Upstaged” is about an actress in early nineteenth century London partially because I am also very interested in theater and was a drama teacher early in my career. Through my novels, I get the opportunity to explore and share my love of the arts. Read More