Hope & Beauty ~ THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN by Kristy Cambron

A Mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz–and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.

BUTTERFLY & VIOLIN K Cambron

“…As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places.”

THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN is a powerful story, well told … beautifully told. ‘Tis a gifted writer who can not only open a window for a reader to peer into a different world, but transport the reader there. Kristy Cambron transported me to another world ~ and I don’t feel as if I’ve quite returned yet.

On finishing the story, I closed the cover and felt strangely untethered from my overly hot summer home. Also bereft at leaving behind this place Cambron had so thoroughly delivered me to. I still haven’t analyzed the why. I’m not certain I want to. But I do know that this tale displays our urge to create beauty and the power of beauty to infuse hope. That message resonated with me. I suspect it will with you. (I’ve posted about creativity before. You can read my encouragement here.)

ED n Karl + redwood copy crpThe quiet, reverent awe this book provoked reminds me of walking among the giant redwoods in John Muir Woods.

Below, the blurb from THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN ~ which I highly recommend.

“Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl–a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes. In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover–the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul–who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting’s subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire. As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: the grim camps of Auschwitz and the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.”

 

Intriguing views through Ellie’s Window by Sandy Snavely

Sandy Snavely’s Ellie’s Window is an engaging book with a creative smörgåsbord of characters, themes, and perspectives.

It may be difficult to tell you why I say that without spoiling some of Snavely’s delicious surprises, but I’ll try. Ellie’s Window introduces us to Ellie Mae and her daughter Charlie. Charlie discovers Ellie Mae has Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease and their worlds are turned upside down—well, their visible worlds, the ones they consider reality. But they’re also living in several different, heavily veiled worlds. Snavely cleverly weaves links between these worlds.

A story about someone suffering the inexorable creeping loss of Alzheimer’s could be a very dark read. But Snavely’s skill as a writer keeps that from being so. She crafts scenes with humor, warmth, and joy amid the stress. She uses delightful turns of phrase that shine a lance of light or beauty into the dark places.

Some favorite examples:  

Early in the book a woman about to give birth to her first child is rambling about things she wants to do before going to the hospital. The rattled husband tries to be supportive while getting her quickly to the hospital in the dead of night. As they drive, she prattles on and suggests they go home until she feels more prepared. He thinks “Labor and logic will not be shaking hands any time soon.” When they arrive, he see the row trees lining the hospital driveway as having “their branches outstretched to protect the weak and weary and those whose nerves have gone bump in the night.” What great ways to convey his state of mind.

A description of a man: “His face was gently weathered, like a tree …” A great visual, a simile that gives us a good image. Some would stop there, but Snavely adds that extra lance of light: “His face was gently weathered, like a tree that had learned to bend with the wind.” Now that gives us so much more information about the man. And the woman describing him, yes?

And another: One friend chides another for not taking care of herself while busy care-taking others. “You … sit yourself down … you look like you haven’t eaten since Moses crossed the Red Sea.” That women must look emaciated!

At times kaleidoscopic, the scenes written through the eyes of an Alzheimer’s patient are appropriately fluid, slippery, and erratic. Masterfully crafted .

Much about Alzheimer’s remains a mystery. But the devastation it can wreak in a family is no mystery.

In that environment, Snavely offers a new perspective based on the truth that God’s ways are beyond our ways. God is not bound by space and time as we are, and just because it appears that an Alzheimer’s patient is vegetating doesn’t mean that is actually what is happening.

Snavely’s writing is full of touches that give the reader an extra dose of humanity as they meander through the fog that is Alzheimer’s. The one “read-bump” I encountered was her occasional use of multiple point-of-view characters in a scene. This might be done in some genres, but it was an unfamiliar technique to me. Early on I found it confusing. I became more used to it, but when I encountered it, it did momentarily pull me out of the story world. For other readers it may not be an issue.

Ellie’s Window is a creative story that expands the realm of possibilities for our consideration. A gift on every level. As the flags on special pages indicate my impression. :-) 

In cyber-chatting with Sandy, I asked her to expand on her comment (end note) about how she came up with Ellie’s Window and prepared to write it.

SS: “It was like God opened a book and the story just fell into my heart…. I did quite a bit of research on Alzheimer’s just so that I could write about it without stammering. But I didn’t want the story’s primary message to be about Alzheimer’s but about hope.”

I asked what was her inspiration for some of the unusual perspectives she included.

It’s “one of those things that happens while writing. I closed my eyes and tried to see what Audrey was seeing. … and [it] just seemed to be there waiting for me.”

And the heaven scenes?

I read several books about heaven … Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven,… was the first book that helped me to connect the lines between heaven and earth.”

Thanks, Sandy for a peek behind the scenes.

Transformed Scar

As the calendar page turns, I’m reminded of one of our favorite places, Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch.

CPYR is just 9 acres of rustic buildings, paddocks, barns, horses, and joyous people who work hard and scatter love to the hundreds of visitors like a sower flings seed. It appears similar to small country places scattered across rural America. But Ed and I see it with eyes that reveal it as a miracle. As if by trick photography, we see the current bursting-with-life ranch as superimposed on the image of what it used to be: a barren, scraped raw cinder mine, a scar upon the beautiful land near The Three Sisters Mountains in Oregon. Looking at it through those eyes, the miracles that have transformed blight to hope are Continue reading