Death in D Minor: My thoughts


Death in D Minor: Fran Orenstein

 

Manipulation, control, deceit and one lie that was orchestrated and told enveloped the life of Daniel Hull as he fought to take hold of what he thought was his: His wife: Martha Stanford Hull was not considered his life partner but more like a piece of property that he owned lock stock and barrel. Martha spent her years in isolation being married to this cruel and unfeeling man who used her as a trophy to show off what he owned and what she was capable of doing when playing her special White Piano and entering during a music salon. Martha looked for love, warmth and companionship and never found it living in this austere, cold and vault like environment. The time period is the mid- nineteenth century as the story continues to unfold. The setting is near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as we get to know the Hull family as the author begins with a simple Prelude to the final Sonata in a novel that spans many decades as we get to know the Hull family and their hidden secrets.

Daniel Hull heard a noise in his stables on evening and found a young man hidden away in one of the stalls. Anton Walling was clever, smart and managed to convince Daniel that he was all alone in this world and lived on the streets. Probably one of the few times he showed any compassion he took him in, gave him so warm clothes, a place to sleep and a job in the stables. But, Anton wanted more and managed to develop more than must an employer employee relationship with Daniel Hull and became the one person he felt he could count on to get things done.

Martha Hull became despondent and sullen and needed an outlet of some type in order to function. Although so many tried to find a way to breath some life into her no one could. When Martha died silent questions were asked and a hidden secret about her was buried.  But, when Martha became pregnant with her daughter, something changed. Eavesdropping on a private conversation this dangerous man relates information to Daniel that was false.  Making sure that she was not going to leave and wanting nothing to do with her she had no choice but to remain with Daniel although he left Hull House in anger only to return to a tragedy. Young Laura was not even born and her father hated her. Phillip her brother would bring him the joy and pride that he hoped for, as he wanted him to follow in his footsteps as a musician and composer. But, the real talent was Martha’s and no matter what he felt for her or learned not to feel no one could take that away from her. Laura was born to a father who hated and despised her and a mother who became too frail to care for her after she was born. But, someone hired a nurse to tend to Martha’s needs and a veil of distrust was cast and a woman’s life ended.  

 

The beginning of the novel is titled: Etude: A short musical composition mainly for one instrument designed as an exercise to improve the technique or demonstrate the skill of the player. No matter how hard Phillip Hull tried he could never master the composition or play it with the same expertise as his sister Laura. Nor could he write or compose music without her help. Hoping to get a degree in college that would allow him to do something in the field of math and hopefully someday lead to a career that would gear him to help with the new technology and inventions of the time, Phillip practiced, followed his father’s wishes and yet lived in his own shadow without every trying to find a clear path to who or what he really wanted to be. Laura Hull was blessed in that she met a wonderful young man named Charles Blake, married and had a beautiful daughter named Amanda Jane. But, happiness is relative and in this case short lived as each time someone would dare to cross Daniel Hull or show any sign of dissent to what he proposed or wanted something would happen. Charles was kind, smart, and English professor and poet. He adored his wife and daughter until someone decided to run him over with his wagon on a dark night as Laura stood by horrified as she awaited his return from work. The news that he wanted to share about receiving a permanent position at the college would never be heard. Laura was devastated and forced to go back to the one place she hated growing up: Hull House under her father’s roof and having to even as an adult live by his rules. Death seems to loom over this house and sadness fills each room as the piano is played by Phillip and the music is heard throughout the room and the notes seem flat and lack richness as we find out more when author Fran Orenstein continues with another five star Mystery Novel: Death In D Minor. D minor is a minor scale based on D and consisting of the pitches D, E, F, G, A, Bflat and C. D minor is related to F Major and its parallel major is D Major. The only way I could really highlight this novel was to listen to several etudes in D minor, which had sad and sorrowful like quality and the pianist played a short composition taking less than two minutes to play. Each one having that mystical and melancholy sound which mirrors the mood and tone of the first half of this engaging novel.

 

Throughout the first half the reader gets an up close look at a time period when women were thought to be not capable of handling anything more than tending to their children and entertaining in controlled situations. Many were even spared the need to care for their young as they were given other mundane things to do in order to free themselves for whatever their husbands had planned. Laura Hull Blake flourished in her home with Charles and after his death it was almost like she died too. With the support of her brother Phillip and their very special bond, she managed to forge ahead, deal with her father and take care of Amanda Jane along with Nora a special housekeeper who adored her like a daughter. But, when things begin to get too difficult for her and Anton Walling attempts to use physical force on her fear takes over and she needs to learn more about who this man is and in doing so she learns more about her mother and her past.

 

 Ada Blackwell has what some call “The Sight,” and can see the past, the present and sometimes even the future. A passing comment would send her on a quest to learn more about her mother’s death and a white angel would hover over her when things would get hard. With the help of this women she learns an awful secret, begins to understand more about her father’s ambivalence towards her and she finds some precious journals that would bring her mother alive as she reads her words and understands her past. But, what will it take to leave her father’s house and how will she protect herself and Amanda Jane when Ada warns her that she needs to find somewhere else to live and that Anton Walling is dangerous.

 

Meeting Dr. Samuel Martin would take her life in a new direction and with his help, her brother’s and his soon to be wife Sylvia, she hoped that direction would take her away from her father and to someplace safe. But, something happens when she reveals that she and her family are leaving and Anton Walling thinking he is protecting Daniel and doing his bidding learns he is no longer needed and what happens next changes everything. A sudden ending to part one and an intricate plot that fast forwards twenty years as we meet Laura, Amanda Jane and get to know more about Sam Martin.

 

 

Part Two: The Sonata: a piece of music written for one or two instruments that has usually three or four large sections that are different from each other in rhythm and mood. Each section of chapter creates its own special movement or mood as we meet Amanda Jane and Laura 20 years later. Married to Sam, two sons about to go off to college author Fran Orenstein once again brings to light the important issue of women’s rights and suffrage. As Amanda Jane wants to study law or even pursue a career in music she is working with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to give women the right to vote.

 

Losing part of her long term memory and often forgetting what she wants to say and do Amanda, Sam and her two sons rally to her side helping her deal with another important issue that many did not understand and still do not today: Traumatic Brain Injury. The first movement of this Sonata brings to light the music that Laura wrote that has been buried beneath a panel in her old room. As Amanda brings the pages to light and sees what her mother has written she also learns about the journals written by both Laura and Martha. The movement continues as Amanda shows them to her mother and the music begins to flow through her fingers as she sits at her white piano and plays the pieces that have longed to be heard. Laura’s memory seemed to be improved and Sam with Amanda’s help would bring her music to the world,

 

Strong willed, determined and hoping to help restore her mother’s memory and eliminate the shadow and veil of darkness that sometimes hovered over her family, Amanda enlisted the services of Robert Pitt a prominent lawyer and inquiry agent to find the whereabouts of Anton Walling. But, not everything turns out the way she hoped and even though the sparks began to fly and their blood pressures rose in each other’s presence, Amanda and Robert had to focus on the task at hand.

 

A special concert that would showcase the Piano Sonata for a Lost Poet would end in tragedy but for whom. So many present and one man determined to get revenge on them all. Truths are told and lies are revealed as author Fran Orenstein brings this outstanding fourth movement of this well orchestrated Sonata to a close with a dramatic and surprise ending. Death in D Minor: Each movement having it’s own significant type and sound: In this case the first movement sounded quite Grave, the second where things moved rather fast as Laura and Samuel decided to leave Hull house and then the tragic ending: this movement seemed not only Grave but andante: in a moderately slow tempo. The second part of the book titled Sonata picked up in its pace and at points it seems Allegro moderato and finally allegro ending swiftly, cleanly with high loud crescendo. Martha and Charles: were their fates related? Why did Daniel shun Laura? Secrets, lies, betrayals and the fragility of one family hanging by a thread as author Fran Orenstein orchestrates the final ending with a final chord played in the key of D minor.

 

Fran Lewis: reviewer: Let’s give this book: Five Golden White Pianos for Laura

 

 

 

 

 

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