Concerto by Hannah Fielding
When Catriona Drouot, a young music therapist, honours an opera diva’s dying request to help her son, Umberto Monteverdi, recover his musical gift, she knows it will be a difficult assignment. She had shared a night of passion with the once-celebrated composer ten years before, with unexpected consequences. The extent of her challenge becomes apparent when she arrives at her client’s estate on the glittering shores of Lake Como. Robbed of his sight by a nearfatal car accident, the man is arrogant, embittered and resistant to her every effort to help him. Still, Catriona sings a siren’s call within him that he cannot ignore. Caught up in the tempestuous intrigues at Umberto’s Palladian mansion, Catriona discovers that her attraction to the blind musician is as powerful as ever. How can she share what she has hidden from him for the past decade? Soon she realises that hers is not the only secret that is rippling uneasily below the surface. Dark forces haunt the sightless composer, threatening his life – for the second time. Concerto is a sensual and romantic story of lost love and forgiveness, destiny and difficult choices, and of a heroine determined to put things right at last.
Where did the inspiration come from for your new release?
There are two key themes in Concerto: blindness and music.
For the past few years I have been around blind people. People who were energetic, independent and free before they lost their sight and suddenly found themselves in the difficult position of having to rely on others for everything. I watched their anger, their depression and despair, their fight to remain independent and dignified; and finally, I witnessed their courage as they tried to make the most of a horrible situation. All of this inspired the hero in Concerto, Umberto.
What does a blind pianist composer need in order to find the courage to heal? His music, of course. Music is soothing, relaxing, exhilarating, mood changing and therapeutic. That is why I decided that Catriona, my heroine, should be a music therapist, a lady with the skills, the talent and the soul to lead Umberto out of the darkness and into the light.
How does it feel to know your characters are out and about in reader’s imaginations?
There is always a heady mix of emotions when a book is published: relief to have finished the book, excitement that others will now read it, hope that they will enjoy the story and love the characters as I do – and a little trepidation, because to publish a book, to share your creativity, is to make yourself vulnerable.
Do you miss writing about them?
When I finish writing a book, I always miss my characters; I have felt so close to them for months. The ache never drives me to write a sequel, because their story has ended at the right point, but it does drive me to write another book and get to know a new hero and heroine.
What was your publishing journey highlight?
Recently, I attended the Skopje Book Fair in North Macedonia, where my Macedonian publisher was showcasing my books. It was a privilege and an honour to meet some of my readers there; one lady had travelled by bus for two hours in order to see me!
What was the last book that made you laugh out loud?
Voyager by Diana Gabaldon – the part where Claire finally reunites with Jamie in his print shop after so many years apart, and the reaction of this big, strong, mighty Scottish warrior is to faint. The bathos is fabulous!
What was the last book that made you cry?
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. I read French Literature at university and I like to revisit the classics every couple of years. Emma’s agonising death gets me every time!
If you were on an island for a year what two books would you bring?
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. Beautiful Penguin Clothbound editions, of course.
Lastly, what is your favourite book quote?
‘Be as a bird perched on a frail branch that she feels bending beneath her, still she sings away all the same, knowing she has wings.’ – Victor Hugo
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