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Testimonials

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.”

Locks, Hooks & Books

“After reading Cynthia Sally Haggard’s Thwarted Queen Saga, I was looking forward to her newest release, Farewell My Life. I was not disappointed. She has a special talent of transporting her readers back in time, feel as though they are part of the story, and living in that moment in history.
Farewell My Life gets a very well deserved five plus stars from me. I highly recommend it and plan on reading it again in the near future. It is definitely a keeper. “

Reading is My Remedy

Farewell My Life by Cynthia Sally Haggard is three books in one; The Lost Mother, An Unsuitable Suitor, and Farewell My Life. However, it is the storyline of one family through a few decades starting at the end of the Great War.

“I really enjoyed these books, it was a hefty book also but broken up well between the three. I also liked that the author did skip ahead years for the last one, and did not waste time with boring, non-relevant information just to get to where she needed in time. I enjoyed how it was written amongst the different characters viewpoints, and it wove together well.”

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.”

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.”

Book Life Prize

“This is not your typical mystery; it’s for fans of thrilling action and historically­-inspired events…Contra to the status quo of the genre, the men are the romantics – though in a deranged manner – and the women showcased are the core strength of the novel.”

Mid-West Book Review

 “A unique, deftly scripted, and extraordinary novel by an author with a distinctive narrative storytelling style that will hold the readers dedicated attention from beginning to end, “Farewell My Life: Buona Notte Vita Mia” is an impressive and unreservedly recommended addition to both community and academic library Contemporary Literary Fiction collections. One of those rare novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf, it should be noted for personal reading lists that “Farewell My Life: Buona Notte Vita Mia” is also available in a digital book format (Kindle, $9.99).”

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.”

Kirkus Review

“The author…adeptly summons the era in all its manners and details with her descriptive prose…Her omniscient, third-person narrator effectively flits through the heads of various characters, offering momentary glimpses of their inner lives.”

Pavani Mathur (the Voracious Bibliophile)

“I loved the elaborate descriptions of all the places in this book. This is the kind of book that shows instead of just telling.

I also loved the historical setting and how the everyday situations were described. The novel is set in Berlin, in the middle of the two wars, so the Nazis are obviously an important factor in the story.

The characters are very well-developed and interesting to read about. Angelina is a fascinating character, as is Grace. Along the duration of the book, Grace learns a lot about herself. I was amazed by her quiet yet vibrant personality, and her brilliant talent.”

Book Review Directory

“This intriguing tale explores the hopes, plans, and struggles of Angelina, the stubborn youngest daughter of a troubled Italian-American family, and her two daughters. A widow, Angelina became a “fallen woman,” acting as a mistress over the years in an attempt to earn her own money, and the story opens just as her life begins to change.

The author has clearly done a great deal of historical research into the time, filling the story with details about the clothes, buildings, and passersby, to where readers can enjoy an immersive experience. The dialogue similarly seems to fit, with some lines in Italian and then translated into English to give the feel of the characters and the way they’ve kept their heritage alive.”

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

San Francisco Book Review

Farewell My Life is a period drama in the form of a book, but the early 1920s form so much more than just a set piece to watch the lives of characters unfold. Every person in the book is masterfully shaped by the era, showing both prejudices, which would be overcome by living in the modern-day and inner strength and drive to claim what one wants that has existed throughout time. By not shying away from either, the author has made a masterpiece, one readers can easily lose themselves in. As the book sweeps on, Grace is brought from Georgetown to post-war Berlin, where she pursues her own passions to become a violinist, before being thrown into the middle of family strife she had no notion existed even the day before she became the center of it. It is an intimate epic, an image of the minutiae of lives spelled out against the vastness of family history.”