The Woman in the Moonlight
A stirring historical novel about 19th century Vienna and the tragedy and dynamic passion that inspired Ludwig van Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
Vienna, 1800. Countess Julie Guicciardi is about to take piano lessons with Ludwig van Beethoven, the most talented piano virtuoso in the musical capital of Europe. The spirited 18-year old is captivated by his volatile genius, while he is drawn to her curiosity and disarming candor. Between them, a unique romance blossoms. But Beethoven has a secret he’s yet to share, and Julie is harboring a secret of her own, one that could destroy their perfect love story. Set against the rich backdrop of 19th century Vienna, The Woman in the Moonlight is a sweeping portrait of a titan who wrestled with the gods and a woman who defied convention to inspire him.
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?
“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.
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.
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.
[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.
Captivating and emotionally compelling. Morrisroe writes with intelligence and great wit.” Her spirited heroine is simply unforgettable. I could not put it down.
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.
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.
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.