The Woman in the Moonlight
To the well-honed investigative skills on display in her acclaimed biography of the Dionysian Robert Mapplethorpe, Patricia Morrisroe now adds the art of intuitive invention. Her first novel gives us the intractable genius of Ludwig (or as his Francophile contemporaries preferred, Louis) van Beethoven through the eyes of Countess Julie (or, as he preferred, Giulietta) Guicciardi, the dedicatee of his Piano Sonata No. 14, popularly as the “Moonlight” Sonata. The supporting cast listed at the outset goes on for pages, but never fear. Though researched to a fare-thee-well, Morrisroe’s fiction never lets atmospheric historic detail slow the swift pace of intrigue, politics, art, and sex. Can the HBO miniseries be far behind?
Spanning 50 years and various dazzling European cities, Morrisroe’s fiction debut combines historical fact and speculation into this story of the woman who inspired Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Julie is a complex, thoughtfully written protagonist, surrounded by a large but never overwhelming cast of supporting characters, and the historical backdrop, full of court intrigue, is rich and detailed. Historical-fiction fans will find much to enjoy here.
“Based on a true story, Morrisroe turns her accomplished non-fiction research and writing skills to this little-known aspect of Beethoven’s life to deliver an intriguing story.
[The Woman in the Moonlight] is a novel full [of] illuminating details about the countess and the composer, but also finely rendered details about society life in 1800s Vienna.
An intoxicating novel about love, art, and life. Just as Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” moves one from tears to hope, so does Patricia Morrisroe’s story of the woman who inspired the sonata.
Brava to Patricia Morrisroe for creating such a lively and meticulously researched page-turner. Her touching debut novel is a tribute to the courage and sacrifice demanded both by art and what is commonly called true love.
Captivating and emotionally compelling. Morrisroe writes with intelligence and great wit.” Her spirited heroine is simply unforgettable. I could not put it down.
I was utterly absorbed in this beautiful story of the brilliant, impossible Beethoven and the lovely countess who inspired one of his greatest sonatas. The story is so moving I was sorry to come to the last pages. I read them with tears in my eyes.
Sensual, witty and deeply researched, The Woman in the Moonlight vividly captures the tumultuous romance between volatile genius Ludwig van Beethoven and his “enchanting girl,” Countess Julie Guicciardi. In a love story ripe with decadence and court intrigue, Patricia Morrisroe transports readers in an unforgettable romp through 19th century Europe.
Patricia Morrisroe’s … love for shoes started with a crush on a little friend’s white Mary Janes. She successfully lobbied for her own pair, only to have her quirky mother—her comic foil throughout this book—offhandedly inform her that she was born with 12 toes. What’s entertaining about her life story and footwear adoration is the irony Morrisroe blends into every scene; her comic timing brings peels of laughter… Romances and a peripatetic career in journalism also spark wry observations.
This ebullient memoir chronicles a woman’s life through the shoes she’s loved…Morrisroe shows how our footwear tells our stories and reveals our character.
The book is full of… funny and keenly observed details. Blessed be any woman willing to tell the truth about heels.
Chatty and endearing, this episodic memoir flows … Morrisroe recreates many of her shoe lust milestones growing up in the 1960s in Andover, Mass., shopping for white Mary Janes, wedgies, Beatle boots, and ghillies…Straightforward and funny, Morrisroe proves to be a great companion as she navigates shoe stores, high heels, and foot fetishes.
Morrisroe hits the mark … A funny, warm and insightful trek through one woman’s life and American popular culture—a successful blend of form and function.
I love shoes and this delightful memoir shines a light on all things shoe, as well as all things personal. Patricia Morrisroe’s life unfolds through her wedges, ruby shoes, t-strap heels, and Manolo slingbacks. As I read it, all my memories came back in a flood, and yours will too.
Patricia Morrisroe writes with the sharpness of a stiletto and the wit of a Louboutin.
9 ½ Narrow is an utterly charming — I might say fleet-footed — memoir about entering life with big (but narrow!) feet and bigger dreams. Patricia Morrisroe depicts the agonies of growing up as a born sophisticate in a Catholic family and a small town with an enviable lightness of touch — and a comic’s sense of timing. It is hard to read this book without laughing — or occasionally grimacing — in recognition at the truth of an observation or situation, leaving you wondering how someone else has figured out exactly how you feel about everything from getting a bad perm to Bergdorf’s shoe department.
9 ½ Narrow is a 10! A girl becomes a woman and shares her memories, her loves, family, and shoes. You’ll identify with Patricia, laugh with her and at her – page after page. You’ll want to call her up and talk. I don’t know her but I wish I did.
A must-read for fellow insomniacs. Morrisroe approaches the topic with the zeal of a researcher – always armed with her fabulous wit.
Cheerfully anecdotal… a journalistic stunt-a-thon full of deadpan funny adventures… a fine firsthand look at insomniac eccentricities.
[By] writing about sleep Morrisroe tells an important story, providing a specific example of a profound social and political question: the relationship between medicine and money.
Morrisroe’s sparkling writing carries her through. That her journey ends happily, with her discovery of Qigong, means readers will be as encouraged as well as informed, with as much on overcoming insomnia as avoiding snake-oil salesmen.
A weird, wonderful journey in search of a good night’s sleep.
The best memoirs take us inside the person’s past and this is what Morrisroe has succeeded in doing brilliantly… you will be tossing and turning with amusement.
Morrisroe has livened up what could have been a wearisomely fact-heavy read by venturing into the field and embracing the spirit of adventure… As with Fast-Food Nation, the book neatly points up the way technology has altered our lives and our health. But far from being earnest, Morrisroe’s romp through the sleep industry is often very funny and full of fascinating examples.
A comprehensive study of the culture surrounding sleep.
Your essential bedtime story… nicely done.
Provocative and witty.
Morrisroe is well-versed in the scientific background of sleep. She intelligently breaks down jargon-filled research articles found in academic journals to educate readers about various sleep disorders and treatments.
A smart, informative and entertaining memoir … She tells it with wit, honesty and a crisp writing style. This is a good book for the sleepless and for those who wish to understand their plight.
The book is the closest thing to an amusing chat on sleep (with someone who listens, understands, and cares for you) that I have ever found.
Wide Awake manages to be both witty and informative, an absolute must-read for anyone looking to get the bottom of why Americans spend 20 billion a year trying to get a better night’s sleep. Morrisroe’s hard-won conclusion might just change your life.
Bursting with fresh revelations, Wide Awake is a mesmerizing exegesis on sleep and its discontents, written with wit, charm, and, above all, wisdom born of Morrisroe’s triumphant struggle with insomnia.
As someone who cherishes sleep almost as much as my kids, I found Wide Awake a fascinating romp through all aspects of insomnia. Stumbling onto this underground nation of sleep deprived people was like discovering a whole new sector of the population. I never quite understood the magnitude or the desperation until I read Morrisroe’s personal, humorous, and well-researched memoir about the one thing we can never seem to get enough of.
Patricia Morrisroe tosses and turns her way through the landscape of insomnia, taking us along on a guided tour so rich in literary allusion, sleep lore, and uniquely personal insight that I stayed up all night reading it. At once poetic, intimate, and surprisingly informative, Wide Awake is a self-portrait of the insomniac as authora story full of nuance, revelation, and surprise that might just as easily be subtitled, Alice’s Adventures In Slumberland. As for the title itselfI’m proud to share it!
Patricia Morrisroe sets out to cure her insomnia with help from America’s booming sleep industry, which peddles everything from Ambien to dental appliances. What she discovers along the way will aid anyone who worries they aren’t getting enough rest.
An utterly admirable biography… This is a courageous book; Morrisroe went to the bottom of the box and did not flinch at the things she found there… The clarity and honesty of Morrisroe’s portrait are worthy of its subject.
[The author] has succeeded in re-creating the photographer’s world of light and dark… Morrisroe’s [book] is as mesmerizing as Mapplethorpe’s stare in his self-portraits.
An engrossing saga… The context she creates for him is extensive, and she documents it dazzlingly. The result is an illuminating portrait taken from more angles than Mapplethorpe ever used in his photography.
The cool handling of hot material, which gave Mapplethorpe’s work its characteristic edge, also distinguishes Morrisroe’s account of the work and the life… She has created a kind of postmodern portrait of the artist… One of the books strengths is her elegant discussion (and description) of Mapplethorpe’s photographs…What she has done is bring his character, and its context, alive.
In this riveting biography Morrisroe comes a lot closer to the real man and his times than have all the pious tracts and memoirs… Anyone who was there will find the book perhaps the truest picture to date of an important corner of the New York art and social world during the past twenty years… The book is a valuable corrective, and a major study of the darkly shaded life of an American artist.
Morrisroe’s compelling work… provides intimate, often painful, details of [Mapplethorpe’s] rigid Catholic upbringing, the sexual obsessions that drove him to the gay S&M scene, and his intense relationship with rock singer Patti Smith and aristocratic lover Sam Wagstaff. The definitive biography.