STRINGS: A LOVE STORY by Megan Edwards Reviewed by Daniel C. Lavery

               

STRINGS: A LOVE STORY by Megan Edwards  Reviewed by Daniel C. Lavery

I devoured my pre-publication copy as a classical music lover, and one who had an immediate connection with my wife the moment we met some refer to as a soul-mate. Megan Edward’s creative writing shown by spectacular descriptions and themes followed by a phenomenal ending makes a powerful combination. This review is but a skeleton of a much greater whole spanning the lives of two lovers in high school through many years of professional life, marriage, an ugly divorce and many vibrant surprises. STRINGS combines these with a unique classic musical instrument: "The Violin of Angels." We are soon greeted with an unusual love that survived extreme hurdles. Ted Spencer, a rich boy fell for a cleaning lady’s daughter, Olivia de la Vega. They played Lancelot and Guenevere in Camelot at a private school called Haviland with interference from his family who thought he deserved better, and much fickle fate thereafter. His mastery of the violin admitted him to Julliard but separated them when his parents interfered making her doubt his love as one of the many “strings” that obstructed their romance.

Olivia, a stunning beauty, and talented actress, introduced Ted to a different world of Celtic harps, a music festival, and hippies instead of the upper crust of society in which his parents sheltered him. This helped free him from the rigid control his parents and Classical music teachers stressed. At his home his Dad produced a sparkling diamond he had cut for Ted when he married someone acceptable. Soon Ted announced he wanted to marry Olivia and was going to Julliard, not Yale as his father wanted. Taking two cigarettes to lite, he handed one to Ted and informed him if he did, that was the last thing he would receive from him! His parents ensured Olivia would leave the scene by lying that Ted had a girlfriend he planned to marry and had a diamond ring for her. Naturally, she failed to show at a time Ted asked for her to join him at their secret shelter and disappeared.

           

(Megan Edwards)

 

As fate would have it, Olivia found work in Television and soon became a talented actress in Los Angeles, married, and named her daughter, “Theodora.” Meanwhile, Ted developed his violin expertise at Julliard, played at Carnegie Hall, and became Concertmaster with the Vienna Philharmonic. Fast-forward nineteen years when Olivia met Ted at a concert where he played Paganini’s “Last Caprice in A major,” his audition piece for Julliard, “he consigned to his heart along with memories of Olivia too melancholy to open.” Later when she visited during a contentious divorce, he bought a tiny porcelain ballerina that pirouetted before a mirror to “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” as a present for her seven year-old daughter, Teddy.

 

After another hiatus, Ted met Sophie Reinhardt who helped his career take off while they lived together noting her “pale blonde hair swirled in soft unruly curls to her shoulders” while “her confident grey-blue eyes met his gaze.” Divorced five years, she was free and helped his career blossom during their extended affair. So successful his career became from their liaison, he bought an eight bedroom three story home with four fireplaces at Westchester County in Sleepy Hollow next to his Rockefeller neighbor!

 

Soon Olivia’s letter from Malibu re-connected them. Her husband of ten years had died leaving her the entire contents of his study which contained an extraordinary violin: Joseph Guarnius…1742 HIS! She asked him to appraise this gift since he had become a violin expert and exclaimed, “It wasn’t the amazing Violin that made his head damp, but Olivia returning to his life!” When she arrived he set up his fiber optic camera. The remainder of the process unfolds like a Sherlock Holmes mystery revealing a violin, The Merino Rose, worth millions. Ted generously made a bequest of this gift to Teddy for her future. The spectacular ending on a beach at sunset, waves crashing, the sand turning gold, and the wind blowing in Olivia’s hair, left this reader in tears with Ted’s final words: “You and I have a symphony to finish.” Readers will want to order a copy to fill in the amazing details of this extraordinary and unforgettable fictional romance novel.

 

BIO: Dan graduated Annapolis, navigated a Navy jet, was carrier qualified, and earned NAO wings in Florida, and then a ship to Vietnam with 300 marines. He resigned, turned peace activist, and became a civil rights lawyer for Cesar Chavez's UFW, the ACLU, and private civil rights practice. His memoir, All the Difference, describes his change from a pawn in the military to a crusader for justice. http://www.danielclavery.com (Author website)

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Local Authors Book Signing at Crown Books 8/17/14 2-4 PM

On Sunday, August 17, from 2-4 PM, local authors, Daniel C. Lavery,(All the Difference-memoir) Richard Weekley,(Already There, poetry) and Douglas William Douglas,(The Black Lake, mystery)will discuss their most recent book, read an excerpt, and coffee, tea, water, cookies, will be provided at Crown Books, 6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd. #1340, Woodland Hills. Each author will discuss his work at fifteen minute intervals followed by fifteen minutes of a break for mingling with the crowd and book signing. This will be Douglas William Douglas's initial book signing for his startling mystery, The Black Lake.

New Flyer:

Meet the Authors

 

Douglas William Douglas

The Black Lake

 

Daniel C. Lavery

 All the Difference, memoir

 "From a Pawn to a Crusader for Justice"

   

Richard Weekley

Already There

Poems Not to Read

 

Sunday August 17th

2 PM – 4 PM

 

Crown Book Store

6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd.

Woodland Hills

 

Join us for a fun time of coffee and cookies as these popular writers read from and sign their books.

   

(The image is for our last event at the same venue. A new poster will be at the location.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADan Reading poem at Onion Fall Poetry Festival 11102013

       

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Back From Nam

Vietnam Helicopter at My LaiVietnam My Lai torching a homeSoldier with flamethrower

Vietnam Jeep with gunners Cam Rahn Bay Vietnam My Lai children and others in a ditch of water

                                                     Unarmed Vietnamese hide from US Assault at My Lai

Vietnam Women and children huddled by tree at My Lai

Vietnam F-4 flyover

Vets cradled by rehab nurses in pool with shot off limbs.

Some in wheelchairs tell themselves what they did was right.

They repeat an embedded phrase: “We did it for our freedoms.”

“We killed people to allow the Vietnamese people to be free

And not allow the enemy to force their will on them.”

 

“But that’s what the draft did, man,said one with a beard.

“They forced me against my will to fight and kill people.

That’s the worst thing in the world. What about my freedom.”

“If you had a chance would you go back again?” asked one.

“No, I’d go to Sweden,” a Black with no legs said in a chair.

 

Another said with head up, chin out, and anger, “Yes, I’d

Go back out of an obligation to do what’s right for America.

No one has the right to tell anyone to do anything against their will.

That’s what I went to Nam to fight for” said the patriotic man.

“But then you are saying the draft isn’t the same as being forced.”

 

“I’m saying no country can force others against their will.”

“Some have to justify the war and can’t say it was useless.”

“Many can’t live with what we did there killing people and stuff.”

“They would be lying to say this was OK since I got a medal.”

“Killing can’t justify paralyzed people. We can’t face we did wrong”

 

How many admit we did wrong and face the rest of life crippled?

You don’t know what’s going on, you been away too long.

You’re out of touch my poor discarded man.

Yes, your left out, out of there without a doubt.

Your obsolete my poor old disabled friend.

 

Remember the Tet offensive and people blown away in Saigon?

I felt like an athlete in an Olympic event in combat city.

We have wasted a lot of time waiting for this opportunity.

What a time it was. Innocence, confidence, long ago.

Man fights battles on the land and sea.

 

My friend had brains but now is paralyzed in the psycho ward.

Earns more than those working on him from disability he can’t use.

Man strapped on a cart uses crutches to move around.

They feed all the Vietnam psychos Thorazine to make them zombies.

Take me to the station. Put me on a train.

 

I don't think I'll ever pass thru here again.

 “I want to volunteer,” says a youth

 Without a clue after brainwashing by recruiters in uniform.

 Once I was a strong man. Now I am so weak. Never in my

Sorry life have I ever felt like this, before.

 

Anti-was We can Bomb the world to piecesAnti-war poster old soldiers never dieAnti-war Peace NowAnti-War not healthy

Vietnam MapVietnam Hugh Thomspon forgotten hero

Vietnam Winter Soldier they risked everything to tell the truthVietnam My Lai 20 May 2010

My Lai Today

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Romping with Birches and their Music

 

The resilience of Birches

How they buckle, contort, and curve

So different from their companions.

Thoughts turn to childhood when I could

Manipulate them pushing or

Pulling their branches in the wind

With brother after strong snowfall

Or rain storm, when the breeze explodes

Making them sing like instruments

In Nature’s chamber orchestra

Playing haphazard symphonies.

 

When Sun’s swelter melts icy frost,

A musical chance offering

Percussive bursts crashing branches

Through supple arms as if wildwood

Fairies dropped rare glass chalices

Composing unique tones, rhythms,

And unsynchronized harmony

Unheard by city residents.

 

When summer arrives we return

To our Birch playground leaping up

And pulling the wood nymphs tresses

To Earth while their leaves, like nightgowns

Circle the warm soil that cushions

Our feet when we cascade to ground.

 

Every season our Birch comrades

Entertain us with euphony.

Companions relish joyful mirth

Frolicking with our forest friends.

 

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Legal Karma

At 9:45 AM in Hollywood, California, a man in his fifties and his son, twenty, approached the tall office building for the young man’s deposition at a busy intersection on Sunset Boulevard. Tall father in his blue pin striped suit, and muscular son, three inches shorter, in slacks and a sport shirt, strutted through a cross-walk. A crowd waited for a street musician to begin. Father and son passed the gathering to a nine-story office building, through glass revolving doors, into the foyer over black granite tile to the elevators. A swift ride to the ninth floor took them to a snazzy law office where the defense lawyers rented space. They stepped out of the elevator on to dark oak floor that led to the reception area.“We are here for John Kelly’s deposition,” Matt Kelly said to the slender dark- haired receptionist. She wore a professional grey suit bearing a name tag, “Fran”. She whisked them to the law library, where legal treatises ascended from floor to ceiling, and Joe Murphy, John’s attorney, closed the doors, “All the defense lawyers have read the hospital and psychiatric reports, and everyone wants to settle except the attorney for the driver of the Toyota who caused the accident without your deposition, John. She seems argumentative. The insurance lawyer is a professional and will begin the questioning. Just stick to the facts.” They walked to the conference room. Joe opened the heavy oak doors and they entered. Set on red carpet, an oak table had nine empty captain’s chairs with a court reporter at the far end in a dark blue suit. She had just placed new paper in her shorthand machine. A long glass window overlooked Sunset Boulevard to the east. They remained standing as the defense attorneys arrived. An obese female lawyer for the driver of the blue Toyota sauntered in with the insurance company’s lawyer, a husky red-haired attorney with a crew cut, Jack Levine. The reporter arose and pointing at the seat next to her said, “Would the deponent please sit here?” John took that seat, Joe sat adjacent, and Matt moved next to him. “Mr. John Kelly, do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” the court reporter said. “I do.” “Counsel may proceed.” “Mr. Kelly, what time did you begin the trip in question?”asked Levine. “About ten AM.” “Where did you leave from?” “542 Newton Avenue, San Fernando, California.” “Who else joined you?” “My wife Barbara.” “What course of study were you engaged in at the time of the accident?” “I was a Microbiology student at UCLA in my third year.” “What speed were you going at the time of the collision? “I used cruise control at 66 miles per hour.” “Tell us how the accident occurred?” “The defendant’s Toyota entered the freeway on my right at high speed. I tried to avoid the collision but was surrounded by trucks. I honked and moved over but her car slammed into mine sending it into a spin. My car crossed into oncoming traffic, a van broadsided me, and knocked me unconscious.” “So you didn’t see the van coming ? “No, everything went dark once the spin ended.” “What do you recall next?” “I awoke at the UCLA hospital in the ICU.” “How long did you remain there?” “Two weeks.” “Do you have any symptoms today?” “Emotional distress from the loss of my wife, unable to finish my science major, and constant back pain.” “Have you seen any medical professionals?” Joe Murphy interposed, “May we take a break so I can discuss the medical records with counsel?” “Off the record for a conference,” said the court reporter. Joe whispered to John and Matt, “Why don’t you gentlemen go outside and relax. It’s a lovely day. I’ll get them back into settlement mode.” Joe took defense counsel through the medical records, hospital charges, and car repairs. John and Matt left. “Dad, can you hear that saxophone around the corner?” John said. “Yeah, that’s a Glenn Miller tune I played in high school. Let’s go listen.” “That old music jumps and the sax wails.” “That’s a mellow tone he must have amplified.” Matt pulled out a five spot and handed it to John, “Toss it in the man’s hat.”John placed the bill in a red and white brocaded leather hat with the name “Zeke” embroidered in gold on one side. Zeke winked and nodded acknowledging the gift reeling, rollicking, and blowing on his mouthpiece. His cheeks puffed like balloons as he manipulated the sound. With fuzzy white-hair covering his chin, standing and rocking back and forth, he sound-sculptured “In the Mood” with melodious notes that wafted from his gold sax. A crowd of smiling pedestrians had gathered clapping their hands and moving their feet, heads bobbing, and fingers popping to Zeke’s music oblivious to the dust, smell of garbage, and clamor of the street. “My brother played that on sax and I played trumpet in high school.” “Why not ask him to play another?”John said. “Zeke, can you play ‘Little Brown Jug?’” “Sure can, friend,” Zeke said winking his eyes catching a sparkle from the sun. His gold-plated 1950 Selmer Alto spilled notes that affected the crowd who rocked, moved heads and shoulders, feet and hands, to his rhythms and riffs. Some danced to Zeke’s spicy improvisations as his fingers raced over the brass keys like a hummingbird’s wings. Time seemed to stand still for the Kellys relieving them of the morning’s tension and restoring balance. After a half an hour Matt said, “How long will you be here?” “Hell, I’ll stay here until 8 PM.” “Do you play any Brubeck?” John asked. “I’ll save 'Take Five' for you.”They went back to the office and sat in the reception room with a cup of coffee. “Let’s get lunch” Joe said coming out of the conference room “and discuss settlement.” After ordering sandwiches they took a seat overlooking Sunset Boulevard. Jack met them, “I’m sorry Joe, but Griselda insists on her opportunity to question John before she’ll agree to any contribution from her client.” “Just like her. This’ll be over soon,” Matt said putting his arm on John’s shoulder. The court reporter said, “Mr. Kelly you are still under the oath.” The Insurance attorney, a woman in her thirties, blond-brown bouffant shooting skyward, large pointed nose piercing forward, started the attack with pursed lips and eyes glaring: “Mr. Kelly, why do you expect our insurance company and my client to give you any money for killing your wife with your reckless driving?” “How dare you attack my son?” shouted Matt face red with rage. John’s pained expression looked as if he had just witnessed his wife's death. His eyes welled up and he slumped in his chair as if all the air went out of him. Joe jumped up a little cooler and made his record: “Objection! Ms. Crass, your question assumes facts not in evidence, is argumentative, unethical, and unprofessional. You know the police cited your client for gross negligence and exonerated my client who has lost his young wife and had his dreams of a future crushed. You have interfered with the progress counsel, except you, have made toward resolving this matter. I shall file a complaint with the state bar against you for unethical misconduct. This transcript contains the evidence. The deposition is over.” Matt and John arose and joined Joe as they walked into the reception area. They were followed by all the attorneys. Ms. Crass fumed from the accusation. She arose, pointed her nose skyward, and stomped out bouffant trailing. One could imagine smoke erupting from a train stack as she chugged out the door. The court reporter agreed to send the transcripts to counsel and be a witness in further proceedings. “Don’t worry Joe, we’ll settle. Crass only represents the driver’s personal funds as a high school student. She’s been cited by the police and has a driving record that will follow her,” Jack said, “I don’t want any money from the young girl,” blurted John. “Good for you,” said Matt. “The case ends when you sign the settlement agreement,” said Jack. “I’ll send it to you tomorrow,” Joe said. Everyone shook hands and parted. John and Matt left the law office, took the elevator down to the first floor, walked into the foyer, and through the revolving doors. They heard a loud SCREECH and then a THUD. A leather hat lay in the crosswalk with a crowd of witnesses. A crumpled old white-haired man was ten feet in front of a black Cadillac Escalade with the tires on both sides of the crosswalk. A policeman at the scene opened the door and out stepped Griselda Crass, screaming “That man darted in front of me. I couldn’t avoid him.” “Tell it to the judge, lady. You’re under arrest,” said the policeman as he handcuffed her, while his partner started taking witness statements. An ambulance pulled up and immediately began treating Zeke who started breathing again. “What happened?” Matt asked a pedestrian in jeans and a Hawaiian shirt. “Zeke was halfway in the street when the SUV slammed him,” said a bystander. “That driver was on a cell phone when she hit Zeke,” a woman of thirty said. “What was the last song he played?” John asked the man with the drums. “‘Time out’ by Brubeck.”

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