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Gwendalyn’s Books

Farewell My Life is a coming of age period drama, the book is set in between World War I and World War II.
Written in third person narration the author has creatively set the novel into three distinctive parts. The opening of the book is set in Georgetown, Washington DC
Angelina, a single mother to Violent and Grace is the black sheep of the Pagano family. She does not follow the norm, her morals are questionable to say the least. A chance meeting leads her to introducing handsome Nicholas Russell to her daughters. This sets in motion some dramatic events, when Mr. Russell’s attraction toward Angelina’s younger daughter Grace becomes sinisterly obsessive. To escape the unnerving clutches of Mr. Russell, Grace’s family take her to Berlin Germany, where she can study violin with the greatest teacher of the day. But in Berlin, they encounter the turbulent political climate leading up to the beginning World War II.
Exquisitely written with vibrant characters this book left a lasting impression on me. The author has written a heartfelt, moving, powerful, thought-provoking book, one that is definitely going to be a reread for me as the writer’s voice is so captivating. I really enjoyed the well researched content historical events interwoven with fictional characters.”

Indie Reader

Cynthia Sally Haggard’s FAREWELL MY LIFE initially thrusts the reader into 1920s-era Washington, D.C., looking at the precarious lives of four women: Angelina, mother to teenagers Grace and Violet, and the elder Aunt Paulina. Immediately, it’s impossible to pigeonhole them. Angelina’s passionate, norm-defying behavior belies a world-weariness born from difficult experiences–but so does Paulina’s balancing of traditional values against the transforming world Grace and Violet are entering. Throughout the book, the relationships and conflicts among the four anchor a winding story of courtship, 1920s and ‘30s-era political intrigue, secrets, and scandals, with Grace at the heart of it all.

The complexity and interactions of the four central women are refreshing. All of them have their flaws, and all of them are distinct (Angelina is perceptive but vain and overly strident while Paulina is fooled repeatedly, but unwavering in her love for and commitment to Grace and Violet, to take just two examples). While the core of the story concerns 17-year-old Grace’s various gentleman suitors, a cast of characters from demure to unsettling to ribald, Angelina, Paulina, and Violet always are the most compelling of all.

One of Grace’s love interests, Russell, adds an individualized sort of darkness to match the upheaval of the era. His experiences in the then-recent Great War and on the receiving end of bigotry against Italians in early-twentieth century America both make his icier moments eminently believable. The first, early twist in the story was legitimately startling, but likewise consistent with what we know of Russell. From that moment forward, the tension between Russell’s shadowy qualities and his overwhelming desire for Grace remains a harrowing constant. Even with Russell, Haggard still imbues him with complexity, forcing readers to empathize with him, however reluctantly or partially. Later twists and turns refuse to show him as flat, simply and utterly villainous; his past traumas are given serious weight, even if they do not absolve him of his worst actions. It’s a delicate balance that, most of the time, Haggard accomplishes. Toward the middle of the book, Grace’s eager suitors interact altogether—the only time—in one place, an expertly drawn passage told iteratively from the different perspectives. It’s nearly forensic, in the best possible sense; each partial perspective frames how limited our individual observation of a situation can be, and the ramifications of the scene echo all the way to the conclusion.

The ending might be rather divisive, then becoming almost an inevitability—but all readers will have an opinion on it either way. In the end, FAREWELL MY LIFE will appeal to fans of historical fiction, broadly, to readers of fraught romantic courtship tales set in the past (think Atonement or Revolutionary Road).

Droll, dramatic, frightening, immersive, Haggard’s work grabbed my attention from the first pages and kept it the entire way.

In the spirit of classic novels grappling with gender and class, Cynthia Sally Haggard’s FAREWELL MY LIFE is a sweeping, beautifully rendered addition to the historical fiction canon.–Andy Carr for IndieReader

Passages to the Past

“Don’t you love when you get to the part in the book where the title makes an appearance and you’re like “ohhhhh”?! That was me with Farewell My Life!

“The newest book by Author Cynthia Sally Haggard is a long one but the way she divides it into three parts really help breaks it up. Plus the writing and the story are both so great that the pages just fly by.

Farewell My Life tells the story of Angelina and her daughter, Grace. Angelina features mostly in the first part of the book, and then Grace features in parts two and three. She is a gifted musician and her talent takes her from Washington DC to Berlin where she trains with the most famous violinist in the world. The third part was a little darker as the Nazis start taking over, and the Oster Conspiracy of which I knew very little, is talked about.

“Beautifully written and hard to put down, I highly recommend Farewell My Life! Part coming-of-age, part mystery, part life story – it’s an incredible read.”