New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Canada
Home page: http://www.1stbooks.com/bookview/12986
With Love, With Connie
A Romance Novel by George R. Henaut
Romance for Sale~
Once, not so long ago ~singers did not require smoke, fireworks, synchronized light and sound shows, floating chairs, and precision dancing to showcase their talent.All they required was a powerful voice and a magnetic presence ~those were the days of With Connie! Once, not so long ago, romance novels did not require excessive sex, violence or coarse language to showcase their merits. All they required was a solid plot, memorable characters and creative imagery ~those were the days of With Love!
Perhaps that is why, With Love, With Connie works! Romance is alive!
What is the novel about?
December 12, 1997 is an extraordinary day in Robert Mascaux's life, involving him in a family funeral, his second wedding and a birthday party for a celebrity.
This romantic novel begins with a flashback to 1959, in Northumbria, a coastal community in Nova Scotia. Robert, a high school student, resides at the Manor, a private nursing home owned by his parents, Bertha and Camille, immigrants from Belgium. Robert's home life is enriched by his 'foster grandparents', the Manor residents. When Robert becomes a member of a Connie Francis fan club, he begins a lengthy correspondence with Rachel Turner, the club's teenage president, who lives on an estate in Flanders Cove, Connecticut, with her reclusive, artistic aunts, fondly called 'the bouquet'.
The reader discovers the enduring power of love through the struggles and triumphs that Robert and Rachel encounter during their friendship, spanning 38 years. The novel depicts the influence that singers can have on their fans and also reveals parallels that can exist between the lives of singers and their admirers. The music of Connie Francis is the thread of continuity for the couple for whom fate, an international border, family responsibilities, and a sinister villain delayed their marriage until December 12, 1997.
Why would this novel be of interest?
1. It reveals the powerful influence entertainers can have on their fans.
2. It reveals the enduring quality of some entertainers.
3. The dual setting of northern Nova Scotia and New England provides an international flavour. ďNorthumbriaĒ Nova Scotia is Pictou County, including a description of life in the Red Row district of Stellarton in the late 1950ís; Flanders Cove, Connecticut (could be Jessicaís Cabot Cove in Maine!).
4. It is still possible to tell a powerful story without extreme violence or steamy sex! 5. Through Robertís struggle with the antagonist, we gain a clear definition of manliness. 6. The use of and value of diaries and heirlooms are featured. 7. It highlights a minority group that rarely gets attention: the miners from Belgium who came to work the coal pits in North America.
What have others said about the novel?
John Donatelli of New Jersey, USA a web master for a comprehensive Connie Francis web site, provided the following comments on the novel:
ďEven if you're not a fan of singer Connie Francis, this is a heartwarming, romantic story of the struggles and triumphs that only love can endure and conquer.
It also shows how the power of song, sung by a power of a voice can influence our lives.
Reading you won't want to put down until the very last word. And then pick it up and read again!Ē
A Nova Scotian reviewer posted this review on Amazon. Com: ďThis author obviously writes of what he knows; the result is an engaging story peopled with characters who are believable, refreshing and sometimes unique. Robert and Rachel's longterm, long distance romance provides for a creative exploration of the traditional link between New England and the Maritime Provinces. There is an excellent portrayal of the elderly; the reclusive aunts (bouquet) and the manor guests. Trevor is a classic villain; I was surprised by the twist at the end of the novel.This novel does not need violence or sex to make it a worthwhile read! The unusual device of interweaving the effect of Connie Francis' music on their romance works well. The reader will not want this multi-layered Ďgood readí to end. (Used with writerís permission.)
Who is the author?
George R. Henaut has an abiding interest in language Ė its power and its beauty. His career as an educator provided many opportunities to enhance and share this passion with others. Since 1990 he has written, directed and produced ten dramas for audiences in his native Nova Scotia. His plays and short stories have been influenced not only by life on the Atlantic seaboard, but also by his Christian spirituality and appreciation of traditional family values. All of these influences have culminated in his first novel, With Love, With Connie, which also reveals his enduring appreciation of the music of Connie Francis. His greatest desire is to share this romantic, yet turbulent story of Robert and Rachel with others.
Excerpts form the novel:
The Dream Begins:
Robert returned his albums to the cabinet and slowly made his way to his bedroom where he found comfort listening to Connieís movie theme songs: "Where the Boys Are", "Follow the Boys" and "Looking for Love". He liked the beat of "Looking for Love". It always lifted his spirits. His mind wandered from Connie to Rachel and then to Leah. He had never really had an official date. He and Leah had gone places, but he had never asked any girl to go on a date with him. He wondered if this were normal. Most of the other guys his age in the neighbourhood had found themselves a steady girl friend, a few had already gotten married. He knew he was shy about meeting people, and lacked the self-confidence to approach any girl and risk a refusal, but he had never really met someone he wanted to ask for a date. Then there was Rachel. He knew it was ridiculous to think about her romantically. They knew so little about each other. They had never met, had never spoken to each other. They were separated by an international border. She was an American, her family had wealth, and she had responsibilities that confined her. She was just a friend.
But his fasing her, laughing with her about the antics of her aunts. He touched her hair, felt her body move closer to him. As he lay in bed, he realized that his body was responding to his fantasy. He felt uncomfortable, as if he had lured Rachel unwillingly into his embrace. He closed his eyes again hoping that sleep would engulf him, but within a few minutes he was walking along the beach holding hands with Rachel, looking into her eyes, savouring every look, every movement. They were together. Connieís hit, "Together" drifted into his consciousness helping him to fall asleep with his American dream.
Rachel in Flanders Cove, Connecticut Ė Is the dream gone forever?
Rachel sat motionless on the window seat in the fan club office on the third floor. She looked at the cove, but she knew that her heart would never again float beyond the cove to the Atlantic Ocean on its journey to Nova Scotia. She knew that her romantic dreams were never to be realized. She knew that she had expected too much, assumed too much, dreamed too much. She knew that she had allowed her heart to create a relationship that never existed; she now realized that she would pay bitterly for her folly.
She held Robertís latest letter in her hand. It had been six weeks since he had written. She had imagined all sorts of explanations for his absent letters. The aunts had tried to console her. She had become agitated. She had decided to phone Robert and ask him if she had offended him, but they had never mentioned telephoning in all the time they had been sharing their lives. She returned to the letter. It was so formal, so factual, so cold. It was not from her Robert. It was the end of her dream for them, a dream they had obviously not shared. She knew so little about romance, but now she began to sense the pain of rejection, isolation, and loneliness. She was now alone!
She reread the first few paragraphs:
"Rachel, I hope you and your aunts have been well since I last wrote.
I am sure that you will be surprised to learn that Leah and I were married at the end of August. We are living in an apartment in Northumbria. Leah has a job at a nearby elementary school. It was a small quiet wedding, our choice. We toured Nova Scotia for our honeymoon. Being married certainly is different, but in time I am sure Leah and I will be very happy together..."
Rachel reread the last sentence again: "In time I am sure Leah and I will be very happy together".
She wanted to release her disappointment, her sorrow and indeed her anger, but she could not. She simply sat looking at the letter. It was in this state that Rose found her upon her entrance to the office.
Rose sensed that the letter had conveyed a disappointment. She moved beside Rachel on the window seat. Rachel placed the letter in Roseís lap.
Rose hesitantly picked up the letter and began reading. She gasped! She glanced at Rachel! She leaned toward Rachel to speak but was prevented by Rachel.
"Please, I canít talk. Tell the aunts my news, but please leave me alone for awhile. Iíll come downstairs for dinner."
Rose left quietly. Rachel continued to sit without movement. Gradually evening descended upon the household. The light faded as her dreams had done earlier. Now she was shrouded in darkness!
The antagonist is relentless: Robert speaks to his father!
"No fight, I assure you. I donít like to go over to the MacDonaldís when Trevor is there."
"Robert, you need to stand up to Trevor."
"Yes, stand up and be crushed. Heís a bulldozer."
"Iíve seen guys like him fall easily. Heís a muscle head. Use your brains to bring him down to your size."
"I donít have Davidís slingshot, but Trevor is certainly my Goliath."
"Thereís always a bully in life. Some use muscles, others use their heads. Brains are better than muscles. You canít back down."
Robert faces Trevor.
Trevor stood erect, placing his hands on his hips. "Here Robbie, hit me. I wonít move! I can take it. Iím a man!"
Robert got his second wind, but remained immobile, staring at this crazed man, picturing Leah in his mind, knowing that she would not want him to fight her brother.
Howie broke the silence, "Rob, donít just stand there. Donít let him bully you. Do it for yourself! Itís now or never!"
Trevor responded, "Robbie, listen to your choir boy cheer leader!"
Robert fixed his attention on Trevor, staring at him as the fear, anxiety, disgust and anger of years of abuse swelled within him. He felt himself charged with energy that propelled him into action. He threw a successful punch at Trevorís head, followed by another one. He pounded his adversary with all the strength he could muster. Although he was unaccustomed to using his fists, he thought of his father, remembering his advice about standing up for what is right. He heard Howie shouting for him to finish what he had begun. His mind whirled, his body was an explosive power house releasing years of pain and frustration.
Interests: Drama, novels, short stories
Published writer: Yes