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Good Things I Wish You

3.07 of 5 stars 3.07  ·  rating details  ·  562 ratings  ·  119 reviews
The acclaimed author of Vinegar Hill returns with a story of two unlikely romances—one historical, the other modern-day—separated by thousands of miles and well over a century.

Battling feelings of loss and apathy in the wake of a painful divorce, novelist Jeanette struggles to complete a book about the long-term relationship between Clara Schumann, a celebrated pianist and
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Paperback, 272 pages
Published June 22nd 2010 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,407)
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Jennifer
From My Blog...

Is it possible for men and women to be just friends and in the same vein how does one define art? Two seemingly arbitrary questions are proven to be inter-related in Good Things I Wish You by A. Manette Ansay through her use of relationships both historical and contemporary. These questions and many more are covered in this novel, rich in lyrical prose, charming characters with similar lives centuries apart. Jeanette is recently divorced and misses her husband Carl. When not at th
...more
Marty
I've read a couple of books - SISTER, MIDNIGHT CHAMPAGNE - by A. Manette Ansay, and always enjoyed them. When her new book came up on my HarperCollins list, I was pretty excited and knew that I wanted to read and review it.

This book weaves in the love story of Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms with that of the narrator, Jeanette, and a German man, Hart, that she meets through a dating service. Jeannette is writing a book on the two, and over dinner learns that Hart also has an interest in the t
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Kristen Wyatt
This plot was right up my alley, but I don't know, I thought it was badly done. The heroine = unlikable. The new boyfriend = really, really unlikable. I even hated his little kid. And the book is chock-full of pictures that don't appear to go with the ensuing chapters, like a photo marked "2006" as an intro to a chapter about how Clara Schumann visits her husband's grave more than 100 years before. Hated it.
Lee Razer
Ansay seems to have initially intended to write a fictionalized treatment of the much studied and wondered about set of relationships between three important figures in 19th century classical music, Clara and Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms. Particularly, the very close relationship between Clara and Brahms (were they lovers or not?) seems rich in possibility for a historical novel, raising issues of desire, madness, ambition, and genius.

The story of the Schumanns and Brahms is told close t
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Jennifer
From My blog...[return][return]Is it possible for men and women to be just friends and in the same vein how does one define art? Two seemingly arbitrary questions are proven to be inter-related in Good Things I Wish You by A. Manette Ansay through her use of relationships both historical and contemporary. These questions and many more are covered in this novel, rich in lyrical prose, charming characters with similar lives centuries apart. Jeanette is recently divorced and misses her husband Carl ...more
Elizabeth
An engaging look at two relationships, one historical, the other contemporary. It asks and examines the question "Can men and women be friends?" through the lens of the the relationship between Clara Schumann and Brahms. This book was interesting - it certainly took chances, as we read about an author in an modern day relationship writing the book we are reading. Ansay also formatted dialogue in a way I hadn't seen done before. It kind of annoyed me, but it was new and daring, and I can admire t ...more
Katharine
I picked up this book because I am reading through my public library's fiction shelf alphabetically. This was a great find. I started it at 3:45 p.m on a Thursday and finished it before 8 p.m. -- and that was around me making dinner for my family and settling them all down for the night. It was a FAST read but it was not frothy, like a lot of fast reads are.

This book addresses the age old question "can women and men be friends" using the relationship of Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms as the
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Maria M. Elmvang
Recently divorced Jeanette is trying to figure out how to juggle her book, her child, and suddenly being part of the "dating game" again. Especially the latter isn't going too well, until she meets German-born Hart. Although they both agree that the chemistry isn't there, they still feel some strange attraction, brought on - in part - by their mutual fascination by music.

As luck would have it, Jeanette's book is a fictionalized account of the lives of a German composer-trio, and she happily enli
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Pamela
My book club read and discussed: nobody loved it, but we liked the unusual format including the photo collages. "Metafiction", a book about the process of writing a book, was a new one for us. We liked learning about the big musical mystery - did Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms consummate their love affair after the death of Clara's husband Robert?? No one liked the contemporary characters who provided a counterpoint to the question, "Can a man and a woman be just friends?"
Jill
To be fair,

I love A. Manette. I have read everything she's ever written, and I own most of it. I have her books ranked in my head, and one is in my top ten books ever.

This one falls in the experiment category. I really like it when authors break their usual molds. I want them too. There is nothing I hate like reading the same book over and over with different characters (hello, Mary Higgins Clark, I am talking to you).

The experiment mostly works. The central idea, that desire is much more pow
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Anne Van
I think I feel so irritated, so set up......because the premise of this novel (novella?) is so good. The story is interwoven between an account of the much written about life long passion or soulmate-ness of Clara Schulman and Johannes Brahmes, with a contemporary writer who is researching this and her companion. Sound familiar? Just reading the jacket blurb had me racing to the check out desk, with visions of "Possession" dancing in my head. No way. The alternating sections about Schulman/Brahm ...more
Serena Grey
"I wish I could write you as tenderly as I love you and tell you all the good things that I wish you"

I loved this beautifully written book about love, music, and relationships.

A recently divorced writer, Jeanette is trying to write a book about the relationship between the famous musical couple, the Schumann's and their friend genius pianist Johanns Brahms. While writing, she is set up with Hart, a mysterious German millionaire who may have things in his past that he wishes to hide, and who do
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Emily
I picked this up at a book fair at Allison's school. They had three books for adults - one I already read (and loved), one by Nicholas Sparks (no thanks) and this book. I half wish I'd bought the Nicholas Sparks book instead. I feel romance is the Walmart of book genres. There is nothing wrong with it in principle, but you know you are going to end up with something cheap and of questionable quality. The experience of reading a romance book is as utilitarian and lack-luster as shopping at Walmar ...more
Lyndsey
My favorite part about this novel was the title. It all fell apart after that...

This novel appears to be about a woman who wants to write the novel that is the description of this novel. Confused? Yea, me too. I thought I was going to be reading a dual-story- one of Clara/Robert/Johannes and one of the narrator- and at some point the two stories would connect. Perhaps this novel attempted to do that. Instead, what you get is an odd collection of... well, I don't really know. You get a little res
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Melanie
As it turns out, USF has two claims to fame in the former student arena: the guy who invented the game whack-a-mole and A. Manette Ansay, the latter of whom I recently met and who gave an absolutely lovely reading from this book.

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Enjoyable, but I wish that the two narratives (Clara/Robert Schumann Jeanette-the-present-day-narrator/Hart-the-love-interest) had been explicitly intertwined from the beginning rather than tacked together at the very end.
Rachel McCready-Flora
I picked this up in the new books display in the library and gave it a fair go. I've never read anything by Ansay before, hadn't heard of her either, but it looked interesting.

Overall, I was really disappointed. Most of the book read okay, although it certainly was not insightful or all that interesting. The parts about Schumann and Brahms felt like a bad freshman Intro English biography assignment.
Annalie
Due to the poor ratings and negative reviews I wasn't expecting much, but this book was such a pleasant surprise!
Manette Ansay is brilliant at depicting that roller coaster emotional ride that a relationship between scarred middle aged people would inevitably be. The very intriguing story of Brahms and the Schumanns was masterfully interwoven with the contemporary story.
Cheryl
In this novel, Jeanette faces several challenges as she attempts to write a story about the relationship between Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms. The chapters alternate between each woman's story. The chapters about Schumann and Brahms are interesting, but Jeanette's story is tedious.
Michelle
(2.5 stars) This novel has two related stories, the first being a contemporary tale of a woman professor, Jeanette, who is writing a book about the relationships between Clara Schumann, her husband Robert Schumann, along with Johannes Brahms, mentored by them both. Jeanette is particularly interested in the relationship between Brahms and Clara, purported to be an intense, but platonic relationship. Clara was a gifted pianist and composer in her own right, and despite having a large family, oft ...more
Wallace
Aug 11, 2010 Wallace rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wallace by: am reading this for TLC Book Tours
Shelves: review-copy
Type: {Impress Your Friends Read: notable, prize winner or all around intelligent crowd conversation piece}
Rating: {Me Likey: Enjoyable! Particularly for fans of this genre}

Why You’re Reading It:

You’re interested in Johannes Brahms
A realistic story about relationships gets your boat a’ rockin’
You appreciate a unique writing style
Novels that have interesting and valid messages spark your interest
What I Thought:

In Good Things I Wish You, A. Manette Ansay weaves together the fictional story of mode
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Lisa
This book was well-written and very timely. It stoked my curiosity to learn more about musical contemporaries. It also helped me, as a writer, to realize that not every story must be linear nor does it have to be wrapped up neatly at the end. Life isn't wrapped up neatly, is it?

I like very much Ansay's writing style and her ability to capture the world as we live in it today. She also handled well the interior life of the story's narrator. As I was thinking about the book, I realized that I neve
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April
In Good Things I Wish You, author A. Manette Ansay delivers a rather unique writing style, with her plotting of interweaving historical fact/fiction, with present day. Starting out with Jeanette, a woman and single mother of a young daughter, who is recovering from a divorce, we learn of her struggles to find her way, as she writes her first book. The book that she is crafting, is all-encompassing, in a way that the characters wrap themselves around Jeanette and ache for their story to be releas ...more
Judy
This is one of those stories within a story that I so enjoy. Jeanette, a writer living in southern Florida, has recently gone through a painful divorce, and finds herself working on her latest book with entirely unsatisfactory results. The book concerns the "best friend" relationship that existed between Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahams and Jeannette finds that her book has all of the facts, but the chapters are flat and lifeless. One of the problems is the question why Clara and Johannes did ...more
Elizabeth
I was really intrigued about Good Things I Wish You by A. Manette Ansay after reading the summary. The story within a story comparing a historical and modern romance sounded like it would be interesting. Ansay writes about an author and mother of a little girl, Jeanette who is researching the relationship of Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms for a book she is writing. After she goes on a blind date set up by a matchmaking service, she meets a German man named Hart who ends up helping her with h ...more
Lydia Presley
Can a man and a woman be just friends?

This is the question approached in this book - and even though the answer, at first glance, is a simple one - the actions that lead to that answer are not quite so clear.

In Good Things I Wish You the story switches between that of Jeanette and Hart, a man and woman living in today's world, and the story between Johannes Brahms and Clara Schumann. Jeanette is researching for a book written on these two famous composers/pianists and, in learning about her own
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V
2.5 Stars
It was pretty difficult to consolidate my thoughts on Good Things I Wish You. After a couple days of finishing the novel and digesting it, I still have mixed feelings. On one hand, the storyline and the idea of exploring Clara Schumann's relationship with Joannes Brahms through letters as well as through the parallel, modern-day story of Jeanette and Hart was great. This was what drew me to read the book in the first place. I was extremely interested in the story of the Schumanns and Br
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Bookmarks Magazine
Critics were intrigued by Ansay's premise -- a comparison of two superficially connected women and their relationships -- but most found Clara's story to be far more interesting than that of her contemporary counterpart. Jeanette, with her modern-day minutiae and angst, paled inevitably beside the charismatic and mysterious Clara. Additionally, Ansay's inclusion of historical photographs, sketches, and diary excerpts rendered Clara all the more fascinating. Only the South Florida Sun-Sentinel fe ...more
Kiera Healy
The worst thing a book can be is boring. Well, actually the worst thing a book can be is American Psycho, but boring is a close second. And Good Things I Wish You was a decidedly dull read. It concerns Jeanette, a college lecturer who is writing a novelised version of Johannes Brahms' relationship with Clara Schumann. At the same time, she is halfheartedly pursuing a sort of relationship with a German named Hart, and trying to answer the age-old snoozefest of a question, can men and women ever j ...more
Caroline M.
This is the most unusual novel I've read in a while, and I really enjoyed it. The protagonist, Jeanette, is trying to write an historical novel about the long friendship (or was it more?) between pianist Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahams. Jeanette is newly divorced, trying to figure out if she can be friends with her ex, and also wondering if there could be something more to her new friendship with a man who offers to help her translating Clara's diaries and letters. The novel moves back and f ...more
Christa Sigman
I usually reserve 4 and 5 star ratings for books that I am sure I will read again. I am not sure I would re read this one, but the story was so engaging and the historical bits included about Schumann, Clara, and Brahms and the photos. This book deserves this rating. So glad it caught my eye at the school's book fair and I bought myself a gift as well as the books for kids.
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A. Manette Ansay grew up in Wisconsin among 67 cousins and over 200 second cousins. She is the author of six novels, including Good Things I Wish You (July, 2009), Vinegar Hill, an Oprah Book Club Selection, and Midnight Champagne, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, as well as a short story collection, Read This and Tell Me What It Says, and a memoir, Limbo. Her awards include ...more
More about A. Manette Ansay...
Vinegar Hill  Blue Water Midnight Champagne Sister River Angel

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“Infatuation is the inciting incident. Maybe it goes somewhere, maybe it doesn't, but you can't have a story without it. Love is the story itself, the thing we carry with us after the mountains are gone.” 7 likes
“For art is about desire, is it not, and never its consummation?” 2 likes
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