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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.”

Wishing Shelf Book Review

“The author knows her characters very, very well; this shows in the consistent and very individual way they act. This is not a plot-driven story; it’s character-driven. In this book, the characters are the jam which holds everything together. The best example of this is Grace, the talented violinist, who, simply, jumps off the page. I loved her.”

Unabridged Chick

“What I so appreciated and enjoyed in this book was the mix of expected and surprising in the story. I’ve read many pre-war historical novels and any number of gifted-heroine-exposed-to-the-world coming-of-age stories, but Haggard picked unique details that made this story new. The heroine at the heart of this novel is Grace, an Italian-American woman with a gift for the violin. Her mother, an Italian immigrant, made a life for Grace and her sister Violet by being a mistress and courtesan, a lifestyle choice Grace and Violet both appreciate and revile. A tall glass of cold, dark, and handsome shows up and plunges the family into turmoil with his obsessive interest in Grace and equally obsessive dislike for her mother.

“From this dramatic start, we follow Grace as she attempts to pursue her dream of becoming a concert violinist. Beholden to those with wealth, surrounded by those damaged by World War I, and impacted by family secrets she struggles to uncover, Grace tries to find her own happiness on her own terms. Berlin in 1922 provides a salacious backdrop for an orphaned teen to come into her own. Like I said earlier, this plot is outrageous but in a Sidney Sheldon/Joan Collins/Kathryn Harvey manner: just verging on the unbelievable but not tipping over. It’s absolutely perfect for when you want something fun, dramatic, and ohemgee-did-that-just-happen?-ish. And while it clocks in at 586 pages, the length is enough that it’s like reading a miniseries rather than a brick tome.”