Is jealousy learned? Would the ideal marriage have an expiration date? Are there good arguments for the legalization of prostitution? Whether you are a book club that drinks wine, a wine club that reads book, Oprah, a college class or just someone who likes to delve deeper, may this free Reader’s Guide to Women and Wild Savages bring you hours of thought-provoking discussion and enrich your reading experience.
The guide is five pages long and broken down into the following topic areas:
1. Love and Marriage
3. Women and their Social Role
4. Men and their Social Role
5. Literary Considerations
6. Vienna at the Turn of the Century (1900 – 1910) and Society Today
7. Story Ponderings
Don’t have a copy of the book yet? Get it now at one of your preferred outlets:
In her masterfully written novel, “Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague,” Wall Street Journal correspondent, Geraldine Brooks, transports readers to a remote miner village in Eyam, England in the midst of the 1666 plague outbreak. Through the eyes of a simple servant girl, Anna Firth, we witness first-hand the awesome power of a major catastrophe to unravel deeply rooted conventions and convictions. Social mores and values, class systems and moral codes, once so steadfast and omnipotent no longer matter when everyone from the butcher, to the baker, to the candlestick maker is hemorrhaging bulges of puss before succumbing to rosy ringed skin and finally, the Black Death.
How do you find meaning in life when death kills the innocent and allows the guilty to thrive? Who do you turn to when there is no one left to help you bury your loved ones? What good is wealth and social standing when there is nothing left to buy and no one left to acknowledge it?
Geraldine Brook’s novel is more than an account of a tight knit community that voluntarily agrees to quarantine itself during the plague in exchange for the delivery of goods and basic needs from outside towns. Her book is a thought-provoking examination of life’s existential questions on how society functions and the fragility and seeming futility of social laws, order and hierarchies when the Plague comes to town.
Women and Wild Savages is the first book in the Vienna Muses series and currently available on amazon.com as ebook
No woman knows, or ever has known, or ever will know, what she does when she enters into association with a man.
Women and Wild Savages is out! Very excited to share some big news for me personally – a book I have been working on for several years was released this past week on amazon.com. The print version will follow soon and all versions will be available at other outlets by February. The book is the first in a series entitled “The Vienna Muses” which takes place in Vienna at the beginning of the 1900s.
Writing has always been a part of me and with the publication of this book, a lifelong dream has come true. I am grateful to a great many people – obvious and not so apparent – who have supported this dream and this particular project along the way.
I have spent so many years with the characters in this book that they have – in a strange way – become a part of my life. I have held their postcards in the Vienna City archives, their letters of desperation — perhaps their very last letters – in the Austrian National Archives. I have studied their poetry, their books, the book of those they loved and those that loved them and tried my best, over 100 years after the events, to recreate a story that conveys not only the characters, and the city, but an entire Zeitgeist. I can only humbly hope that those who read Women and Wild Savages will hear the clings of silver spoons on porcelain and smell the tantalizing scent of freshly roasted coffee beans while they delve into the private salons, grand cathedrals, buzzing coffeehouses and cobble-stoned lanes of Vienna of the early 1900s.
Two not-so-obvious supporters of my writing
Research and writing can be frustrating at times, but every now and then fate seems to throw you a bone. While working on the book, through some miracle of miracles after hours of google procrastination, at about 2 am one morning, I came across a 1904 newspaper clipping from a New Zealand online archive with a copy of a tragic last letter from one of the characters to another. What are the chances?
After years of work on the manuscript, I had finished nearly everything, had spent days painstakingly going through all the final edits from my copy editor and just as the finish line appeared upon the horizon, I found myself faced with evil incarnate. I logged into my computer to find all my files locked. A window popped up demanding that I pay an ungodly amount in Bitcoins or I’d never see my files again. Do hackers from the darkside have any idea what writers earn? Back your character up against a wall and see how they react – a demand of writers to up the tension in their books. Was someone in the book of life playing a bad joke and testing me?
A friend once wrote when his book was published that he had expected the joy that would come on release day but not the sorrow. After spending so many years alone together with these characters, I can definitely relate to this. Publication feels like a time to say good-bye and I nervously stand by the door as I release my version of my characters, my words, my work into the world.
As I watch Lina Loos, Adolf Loos, Peter Altenberg, Karl Kraus, Marie Lang and all the others waltz from my safe-keeping to yours, I can only hope that I have been true to them, to Vienna, the Zeitgeist, and that you, dear readers, will find as much pleasure in your time together with them as I have over the years.
For what human ill does not dawn seem to be an alleviation? – Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thorton Wilder (62)
In the Pulitzer prize winning novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, American author, Thorton Wilder, explores the circumstances leading up to the collapse of an Inca rope bridge in Lima, Peru on July 20, 1714 which hurled five unassuming bridge-crossers to their immediate deaths.
A friar who witnesses the bridge collapse and the last moment of life of the five people crossing sets out to prove through their deaths that life has a greater plan:
If there were any plan in the universe at all, if there were any pattern in human life, surely it could be discovered, mysteriously latent in those lives so suddenly cut off. Either we live by accident and die by accident or live by plan and die by plan. (Wilder 9).
I read the entire book in a day.
The simplicity of the story and characters’ lives heightened the significance of deeper more pressing questions about life and its greater meaning.
Some say that we shall never know and that to the gods we are like the flies that the boys kill on a summer day, and some say, on the contrary, that the very sparrows do not lose a feather that has not been brushed away by the finger of God. (Wilder 12)
Thorton Wilder’s gift for language is still evident, decades after the book was first published in 1927.
It was the hour when the father returns home from the fields and plays for a moment in the yard with the dog that jumps upon him, holding his muzzle closed or throwing him upon his back. The young girls look about for the first star to wish upon it, and the boys grow restless of supper.
With an almost romantic surrender, characters are forced to recognize that perhaps a life plan is nothing more than a hopeful illusion, and in the end, we are not nor ever can be fate’s director – instead we are just actors playing a role on a greater stage with no say in when we enter, when we leave and what will happen once we’re gone.
There would be no one to enlarge her work; it would relapse into the indolence and indifference of her colleagues. (Wilder 118).
But perhaps the most beautiful passage of the entire book is the last sentence, which is poetically true, but is missing the fact, that not only love, but Wilder’s written word, is capable of building bridges of survival between the lands of the living (today’s readers) and the land of the dead (the author, the book’s characters).
There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.(Wilder 124)
Annapurna Circuit Album
The book was first published in 1927 and I am thankful I didn’t get my hands on it till years after I had hiked the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal.
Hours of hiking in tropical heat and Alpine freezing temperatures, the weight of my pack cutting into the skin of my waist and shoulders, the cold water bucket showers, the blood sucking leeches, the soggy socks and boots that never dried or the back-to-the-basics outhouses – no problem. My problem was something else…
(Entry from my journal) Bamboo contraptions suspending rivers prove slippery and difficult to walk on – especially with a pack. If you manage to get past these without falling through or slipping off then there are still the suspension bridges. These architectural wonders dangle high above torrential rapids. They have been fashioned from rotting wood, skillfully saving the precious resource by only placing every second plank. Handrails, of course, have not made their way to Nepal. Who has the hands to hold on the handrails when you are lugging 5 times your weight across the bridges? Every time I place my first foot on one of these bridges, I say a silent prayer that no porters will get on the bridge from the opposite direction. All along the way we encounter these agile Sherpas practically skipping across the bridges hauling wooden cases loaded with bottles of Coca Cola or whole trees destined for firewood. Their weight invariably sets the bridge, my heart, and my stomach into a swinging pendulum back-and-forth number. So once I convince myself all is safe (relatively) I get up the guts to step on. But then I make the mistake of looking further down the river. Remnants of previous bridges that had probably given up just as a trekker was crossing, taunt me. What really are the chances of this thing caving in at the exact moment I am crossing, I repeat to myself as I go. I unbuckle my backpack. If I go down, I want a fighting chance and not to be swept to the bottom of the river by the weight of my pack. But a second more reassuring voice inside my head robs me of this illusion entirely. If the drop doesn’t kill you, the rocks will. If you manage that, you’ll freeze to death of hypothermia anyway. And if by some freak accident of nature you survive all that, the rapids will pull you under and drown you. So stop sweating it. If you drop, there’s nothing you can do anyway.
“We do what we can. We push on … as best we can. It isn’t for long, you know. Time keeps going by. You’ll be surprised at the way time passes.” (Wilder 74)
KC Blau is originally a steel city girl who has resided amongst the cobble-stoned lanes of Vienna, Austria for over 15 years. She is a German-English translator who loves to relate the tales of a bygone era of the fascinating women who lived, loved and struggled (not necessarily in that order) in turn-of-century Vienna.