"The story is poignant and churns a lot of emotions in the reader. Agnieska comes across as a very strong character, making her and inspiration for turning around things in life. She is an epitome of strength and determination. The narration is evocative and I loved this book much more than the first one. This book is a tale about heartbreaks, rough childhood, loving and losing, hitting the rock bottom and learning to rise again. "- Wander, Goodreads
Elise thought she knew her mother. Agnieszka Halverson is a caring woman, a great cook, and an exceptional piano player; but living in a secure, predictable world, she’s also a little dull. Her world is devastated when her oldest son attempts suicide, and Elise finds her mother has a past—both sweet and bitter—that she must now reveal to explain the suicide attempt. A past rich with a passion for music and shattered dreams, betrayal of a sweet but tragic first love, second chances and renewed hopes.
Born to immigrant parents weighed down by their roots, Agnieszka takes solace in learning to play the piano, taught by a sympathetic aunt who was a concert pianist in Poland before World War II. But when her aunt betrays her and her parents cast her aside for violating their traditional values, can Agnieszka’s music sustain her? Can she, at eighteen, build a life on her own?
When she finally bares her soul to her children, Agnieszka hopes they can accept that she has a past that’s as complex as theirs; that she’s just as human, just as vulnerable as they are. But do her revelations alienate her husband and can they push Elise farther away from her?
What is love, really?
What is love, really? For an answer, I thought I’d turn to a French Philosopher. After all, some of the greatest philosophers are French (Voltaire, Descartes, Sartre to name a few). And the French are up there as some of the world’s greatest lovers (after the Spaniards, Italians, and Brazilians—all Latin).
So if Àlain Badiou, greatest living French philosopher, according to his compatriots, writes a book called In Praise of Love, wouldn’t you pay attention?
In addition to such formidable credentials, he is in his late 70s—which means he’s wise; he’s also a writer/novelist and a sometime actor—which means he’s in touch with his feelings. Don’t all those add to Monsieur Badiou’s credibility as an authority on love?
As you might expect, Monsieur Badiou believes in love. His faith in it is such that he argues (following Plato) that philosophy should use love as its starting point in its search for truth and meaning.
He thinks we are all, in our idiosyncratic ways, preoccupied with love issues—either as firm believers or as skeptics for whom love is, at best, an illusion that doesn’t last. Or, worst, we’re love atheists who believe love does not exist, but is merely a veneer for sexual desire.
Monsieur Badiou begs to differ with love atheists, of course. He says a sexual encounter is not love.
What, then, is love?
First of all, he asserts love is a two-way relationship, whereas sex focuses on the self (essentially, a selfish/Narcissistic act). Lust can become love when one says, “I love you.” But only if the meeting between the couple changes how each one views and interacts with his/her world. This change is critical to turning lust into love.
That’s not all, however. A relationship must also endure the test of time. At that point, Badiou thinks “Love proves itself by permeating desire.” That is, what he calls the “ritual of bodies” becomes the physical expression of love.
But you knew all that already, didn’t you? So why bother consulting Monsieur Badiou? Is it because we want affirmation of our beliefs?
The thing is Monsieur Badiou’s views may be old-fashioned, even outdated in our modern technological world. In current surveys, those who measure love uses sexual performance as their behavioral index. In other words, they assume the modern man or woman thinks love equals sex.
To counter this modern view, we have to turn to scientists who we can rely on for verifiable facts. Two, at least, have devoted their research to explaining love. Dr. Helen Fisher essentially gives Monsieur Badiou supporting evidence. Her studies show that lust only lasts about a couple of years and what endures is attachment or—I love this term—pair bonding.
Another group of scientists led by Jim Pfaus has shown, through brain studies, that there is, in fact, a seat of love. But it lies, not in that part of the brain which lights up with activity when we’re in lust, but in a higher center. One responsible for thinking, for associations we make with our various senses, and for … drug addiction.
Drug addiction? Love addiction? Maybe, some people do know that already from experience.
Isn’t it reassuring to learn love does exist beyond the flutter in your heart, the blush on your cheeks, the catching of your breath, and all those other ways your body shows lust? Or a panic attack.
About the author:
Evy Journey has always been fascinated with words and seduced by beautiful prose. She loves Jane Austen and invokes her spirit every time she spins tales of love, loss, and finding one's way—stories she interweaves with mystery or intrigue and sets in various locales. SPR (Self Publishing Review) awarded Evy the 2015 Independent Woman Author bronze for her writing.
She's lived and traveled in many places, from Asia to Europe. Often she's ended up in Paris, though—her favorite place in the world. She's an observer-wanderer. A flâneuse, as the French would say.
The mind is what fascinates her most. Armed with a Ph.D., she researched and spearheaded the development of mental health programs. And wrote like an academic. Not a good thing if you want to sound like a normal person. So, in 2012, she began to write fiction (mostly happy fiction) as an antidote.