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Clara's Legacy Paperback – 23 Jan 2014
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One September day in New York, Clara Reinecke gives her grandson, Jonathan, a composer and lecturer at a famous New York conservatory, one of her mosttreasured possessions – a rolled up piece of music manuscript paper –together with an old, faded photograph and a short handwritten letter. Jonathan starts to read the music and gradually Clara begins to tell him the story of 1940s war torn Warsaw.
Clara describes daily life in the Jewish ghetto and she tells her grandson about the appalling conditions, the unspeakable cruelty she witnessed, thedisregard for human life, the hunger, the cold, the squalor, acts of betrayal and sacrifice, acts of courage and heroism and small unexpected moments of kindness and normality.
Yet in these desperate times a talented composer – a Kapellmeister –unexpectedly meets the woman of his dreams. As their love for each other grows a piece of music of unsurpassed beauty and creativity is written in open defiance of the Nazi officer who had demanded that the Kapellmeister produce instead an uninspiring work honouring the Fuhrer.
Clara’s story comes to an end and she then reveals a long held secret to her grandson which will change his whole world. Clara’s pain at recounting the tragic tale is eased when Jonathan insists on performing the music that has remained hidden unseen and unheard for many decades.
The music continues to exert its powerful effect on all those who hear it and succeeds in uniting disparate communities. Much to her surprise Clara Reinecke rediscovers old friends and new family and together they travel to Warsaw to find the final piece of the jigsaw. In doing so the sadness of the past allows them to create the happiest of futures for each of them.
About the Author
Katherine Hook is a music graduate. She is a teacher and an on-set film tutor. She lives in the Forest of Dean.
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10 February 2014
Katherine Hook has written a first class story that begins in New York in 2008, but which is set mostly in 1942 in Poland. The plot in part concerns the composition of a piece of music by a gifted musician who is living in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Second World War. It also relates an unusual and deeply moving love story, involving two of the main characters at the same time. The novel is written with great vividness throughout, the scenes of life in the Warsaw Ghetto being especially striking and evoking the terrible reality of everyday life, suffering and deprivation endured by those who were forced to be there. This is a novel with a powerful narrative drive that makes it hard to put down, and it is to be hoped that this (apparently the first) work by the author will be followed by others. Fully recommended.
20 April 2014
Can't wait for her next one! This is a lovely novel, haunted by a piece of choral music crossing the generations from the Warsaw ghetto to 21st century New York. It is a well researched, intricately plotted novel with strong visual contrasts, complex characters and compellingly memorable scenes. She does not shrink from the brutalities of the ghetto and while the text explores grief, sacrifice and challenging family secrets, it also celebrates love, the power of music and the vibrancy of the human spirit.
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