At 5.30 p.m. on Tuesday the 11th (NZ Daylight time — 4.30 a.m. GMT) all those of us awake and aware will raise mugs, glasses, energy and goodwill for the setting forth of Rosa Mira Books and The Glass Harmonica: A Sensualist's Tale.
Sterling Watson, author of Fighting in the Shade, wrote of the novel: "Bawdy, geographically vast, heroic, and sensual indeed, Dorothee Kocks's The Glass Harmonica perfectly combines the novelist's and the historian's skills. It is an unforgettable saga."
It opens thus:
'On the morning Chjara Vallé quickened in her mother’s womb, the sun reached its red fingers over the Mediterranean Sea, onto the shore of Bastia, Corsica. Light rose up the cathedral’s bell tower, which recently had been painted apricot. Chjara’s mother swept the courtyard – feet swollen, breasts like anchors. Inside the cathedral, five men stood with shoulders together and eyes closed, rehearsing the chant for the dead, their voices resonating against the stone walls.
'The great doors hung open to a breeze carrying salt and sage, and the early light failed to hide that a woman was leaving the priest’s private quarters. She hesitated. She was tall and narrow, with simple shoes and hair a flourish of dark curls. Her hand tarried on the priest’s doorknob and she looked so solitary, there against the blooming vine and the black sea wall. She was the priest’s concubine, the mother of his son, and the secret of their affair was known to everyone in the village including the five men watching through the open doors. Usually the lovers were more discreet. Here she was, daring to leave in the light of day, as the gossips would soon report.
'For a long moment she stood, summoning strength. She was doubly grieved today: her father was the one for whom the singers practiced the funeral chant. Her father was dead and she’d taken comfort in the arms of the man who could never be her husband. Now she had to walk across the broad swath of the cathedral courtyard in front of the world that judged her. Her shoulders caved toward her chest, her neck bowed. She was long-legged as the red deer, and when she turned, her face brave and grief-stricken, the men sang to her. They sang, led by the bassist who was Chjara’s father, their voices reaching deep to where notes roll over themselves like stones rolling in the wash of the sea. They assured her that life was so sad as to be worth living, and the blooms in the courtyard wilted with their feeling.'
Thank you, Dorothee, for the privilege of sending out this novel that fulfils Rosa Mira's dream to find and publish work that bears: the mark of talent . . . a sense of beauty, broad scope, profundity of thought, sharpness of insight, purity of heart, or a joyful spirit alongside a keen awareness of the world's darker depths.