Friday, July 5, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Blue Mist on the Danube by Doris Elaine Fell

Blue Mist on the DanubeBlue Mist on the Danube by Doris Elaine Fell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Vienna, Bosnia, Los Angeles.
The past, the present, the future.
Alabama, Prague, London.
One-two-three, one-two-three. The author waltzes between the glamorous and the mundane and the uplifting like the cadence of a favorite Strauss piece, and most of the time just as quickly.

Hardly a straightforward "boy meets girl" type of romance, halfway through the book I found myself wondering why the publisher labeled it a romance at all, let alone an inspirational one. The central plot concerns two middle-aged women, one a world-renowned Czeckoslovakian concert violinist and the other the American wife of a successful pastor, united by the gifted young man they both call "son."

Through a quirk of fate, the young man isn't the only thing they share. Both women harbor devastating secrets. In fact, everyone involved with this unlikely threesome hides something. Clandestine affairs, aborted babies, terminal illness, stolen art masterpieces, undisclosed occupations, unrequited love, guilt, shame, despair -- a veritable transcontinental Peyton Place.

The very human tendency to refuse to come to grips with past mistakes serves as the villain of Blue Mist on the Danube. We tend to be our own worst critics, and forgiveness -- of others as well as self -- comprises this unusual novel's orchestrated refrain. The unique way in which each character vanquishes this intangible villain I leave you to discover.

True to the tradition of 20th century romantic fiction, the final stanza features a happy, if bittersweet ending. But don't forget a comfortable pair of dancing shoes. As Fell whirls you from the present to the past, and flashbacks within flashbacks, to spin back out to the present and beyond, it makes for a blistering read without them.

(Originally published in Crescent Blues. Reprinted with permission.)

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