Always the Music is the story of Cosima, born in 1837 to the Hungarian pianist and composer Franz Liszt and his mistress, Marie d’Agoult. Set against the backdrop of late 1800’s Paris, Cosima’s story tells of a tumultuous childhood and adolescence, followed by a notorious affair with one of Germany’s most famous composers. Her life is a tale of courage and determination in the face of obstacles.
The Paris in which Cosima spent her formative years was not what visitors see today when they visit the famous City of Lights. From fashion and shopping, to dining and entertaining, nineteenth century Paris was a different world.
During the 1800’s, Parisian fashion went through many changes. In mid-century, the crinoline defined a lady’s figure. It spread the skirt of a dress equally around the body in a rounded shape. The crinoline, originally made of horsehair and cotton or linen thread, played an important role in women's fashion for decades. Later the word crinoline referred to any stiff petticoat or rigid skirt that supported women’s dresses and formed them into the rounded shape fashionable at the time.
After 1860, skirts in Parisian fashion began to narrow and flatten in front, with much of the bulk of fabric moved to the back. By the mid 1870’s a new undergarment, the tournure, had replaced the crinoline. The tournure supported the large backside of dresses, a style known as Cul de Paris, or ‘the Paris bottom'.
Shoppers in nineteenth century Paris enjoyed browsing perfume shops. In the latter years of the century, perfume production underwent a change. Perfume was no longer a luxury afforded only by the elite. Thanks to new innovations and techniques in production, it became widely available. Perfume emerged as a popular luxury, thanks to its new affordability and what some referred to as a ‘hygiene revolution'.
Those dining in Paris in the late 1800’s enjoyed fine culinary experiences. The terms gourmet and gastronome emerged at this time. It is widely believed that the birth of fine restaurants was caused by the French revolution. Seeking safety, aristocrats fled Paris, leaving behind their fine chefs and the contents of their wine cellars. These abandoned workers and fine bottles came together and over fifty new restaurants popped up around Paris.
Strolling the streets of late 1800's Paris was a treat to the senses as art, culture, fashion, and fine dining became commonplace. No wonder Cosima, forced to leave Paris during her adolescence, schemed to return to The City of Light.
Always the Music brings to readers the story of Cosima, a woman who rose above the shadow of three musical geniuses. This is another book in a series on Women in History. It is written under the penname, Elizabeth Elson.
Look for a giveaway next week where 15 readers will win a free copy of this exciting novel.