THE GREAT ENCHANTMENT by Harriet Fleischmann


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Close your eyes and dream, my dears...imagine a spirited sixteen-year-old, daughter of a gruff Yankee sea captain and a dear departed Irish mother; set her down on Beacon Hill, surround her with a covey of Cabots and Whartons and send Dr. Holmes to her sick bed; pluck her off to Paris with a new French step-mother to perfect her gift for the piano; whirl her on a round of entertainment with Rothschilds and Romanoffs...and then-- Chopin: ""Even if he didn't play a note, I would want to keep him forever in sight."" But play he does, and she--""a nobody like me""--becomes his enthralled pupil: ""Happiness had become ecstasy."" A ""mystic bond"" grows between them, but George Sand thinks otherwise, and Henrietta is sent home to regain her equilibrium. She meets a proper Bostonian and marries him, tangles with his termagant mother, and then (again) a letter: her master is ill. ""Dear Lord, what shall I do?"" Henrietta leaves for France, almost loses her unborn child, plays for Chopin and leans over to catch his last words, replies--""I mean to follow you""-- and recovers in the arms of her understanding husband and the delights of domestic life. All this is told, breathlessly, in the perpetual present by Henrietta (Alden)/Harriet (Fleischmann). The point seems to be that any woman can be her own heroine, any historic figure the hero...Byron, anyone?

Pub Date: March 1st, 1967
Publisher: Chilton