Authors Showcase: Destiny in the Past
April 16, 2013
The Book: Scent of Triumph
The Author: Jan Moran
The Story: Paris-born Danielle Bretancourt von Hoffman is a modern young woman with a natural gift. In the language of perfumery, she is a Nose, with the rare ability to recognize thousands of essences by memory.
The year is 1939, and on the day that England declares war on Germany, Danielle and her family are caught in the midst of a raging disaster sweeping across Europe.
Her life takes a tragic turn when her husband and their only son are stranded behind enemy lines. Summoning her courage, she spies for the French resistance, but is forced to flee Europe with fragments of her family. Destitute, she mines her talents to create a magnificent perfume that captures the hearts of Hollywood stars, then gambles to win wealth and success as a couturier. Her intelligence and flair attracts the adoration of Jonathan Newell-Grey, head of England’s top shipping conglomerate, and Cameron Murphy, Hollywood’s most charismatic star.
Danielle charts her course through devastating wartime losses and revenge; lustful lovers and loveless marriages; and valiant struggles to reunite her family. Set between privileged lifestyles and gritty realities, here is one woman’s story of courage, spirit, and resilience.
Review by Angie Rueckert: The Scent of Triumph took me into an amazing journey from France to America. Through the first pages I thought that I was going to read a story similar to Titanic but oh!! Was I ever wrong?
Jan Moran did an excellent job in keeping the reader eager trying to keep up with the next scene. Danielle is a strong courageous woman that spied for the French resistance, and I fell in love with her character.
My mother was one of those amazing spies so I felt a clear connection to the heroine of this story. Danielle lived through some nail biting situations during the tremulous times of II world war. The war destroyed the days of tranquility and beauty in her life and threw her world into a whirling tornado.
She endured the horror that enveloped her life when her husband and son were lost behind enemy lines. She was forced to flee France and come to America, where she picked up her broken heart and the fragments of her life and started over again with more gusto and more determination.
She developed her signature perfume that mesmerized Hollywood. Jan Moran blends smoothly into those pages a mixture of so many tangible feeling such as loss, fear, love, hope, and self-identity. The book is enticing and I know you would love it!
When I finally finished the book I found myself wanting more but there was no more ☹. I do want to see the book as a movie, however I don’t think anyone can portrait on the screen what Jan has put so superbly on paper. I am a fan!
Review by Gregory G. Allen: The language. The history. The story. Jan Moran is a master at pulling a reader into an epic romance and setting sail with our imagination. I chose to ride out Hurricane Sandy with Moran’s book, and boy did she take me away from the winds blowing outside.
I have to say it is Moran’s wonderful use of words that pulled me in so quickly. I felt as if I were right there living out this historical story with perfumer Danielle Bretancourt on all the adventures she endures. This story has it all. Spies in WWII, travel, Hollywood glamour and yes, romance. An exciting story from a very gifted writer. Grab a copy and trust me, you won’t notice life happening around you.
The Book: Call Me Zelda
The Author: Erika Robuck
The Story: From New York to Paris, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald reigned as king and queen of the Jazz Age, seeming to float on champagne bubbles above the mundane cares of the world. But to those who truly knew them, the endless parties were only a distraction from their inner turmoil, and from a love that united them with a scorching intensity.
When Zelda is committed to a Baltimore psychiatric clinic in 1932, vacillating between lucidity and madness in her struggle to forge an identity separate from her husband, the famous writer, she finds a sympathetic friend in her nurse, Anna Howard.
Held captive by her own tragic past, Anna is increasingly drawn into the Fitzgeralds’ tumultuous relationship. As she becomes privy to Zelda’s most intimate confessions, written in a secret memoir meant only for her, Anna begins to wonder which Fitzgerald is the true genius.
But in taking ever greater emotional risks to save Zelda, Anna may end up paying a far higher price than she intended….
Review by Eileen Granfors: The “Brangelina” of the twenties was the “it” couple, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Their excesses and their sad demise have been well documented.
Erika Robuck spins a new tale of well-worn history by letting an outsider narrate. The fictitious Anna Howard is a psychiatric nurse. She understands the terrors of the shell-shocked and the oddness of the exceptionally talented. These qualities help Anna to bond with her newest patient, Zelda Fitzgerald.
Zelda’s insecurities and eccentricities are more than the acting out of a spoiled, flirtatious flapper. As Anna gets to know Zelda, and then Scott, Anna finds that her patient’s delusions are rooted in her husband’s distrust of her and rivalry with her. Anna works to find outlets for Zelda’s obsessions, from dance to painting to writing. Although Anna is overtaxed by the load of this care, she continues to try. Anna loses faith in Scott even as she grows closer to Zelda.
Anna spends so many years at the beck and call of the Fitzgeralds that she loses her chance to be young and free. Her husband, Ben, disappeared in World War I. She expects no further romance in her life. She lost a child. She expects to continue to live as a widow alone, close to her brother (a priest) and her parents. She does not peer into her own future.
Things change for Anna when Zelda is committed to a mental hospital for a longer stay in Ashville, NC. Anna takes more time to develop her own talents, to meet new people, and to find pleasure in a life not rife with outbursts of insanity.
Robuck, whose previous best seller is Hemingway’s Girl, brings the Jazz Age to life. The excesses of drinking and travel compete with the excesses of jealousy in creativity. The Fitzgeralds love one another deeply, yet they were a building storm that would destroy them both. Robuck handles the famous couple in trouble financially and emotionally by allowing Anna to filter the information and dole it out as Anna interprets the events. The glass world of the Fitzgeralds is shattered. It is a mark of her depth of character building that Robuck allows the reader to accept their end while still caring about the life of Anna.
This is a heartfelt, emotional journey with a glamorous, materialistic couple and the story of a unique woman whose heart shines with the gift of compassion. Five stars for Ms. Robuck’s new book.