The Merino Rose. Ted Spencer has a hard enough time believing the celebrated violin really exists. To find it sitting on his coffee table is nothing short of incredible. The stuff of legend, the exquisite Guarnerius has been missing for centuries.
But even though the renowned instrument is a violin lover’s dream come true, it holds only heartache for Ted. The value of the Merino Rose may be beyond measure, but he has acquired it at too high a cost.
Ted found his soul mate when he met Olivia de la Vega his senior year in high school. In the school’s production of Camelot, Ted was cast as Lancelot, Olivia as Guenevere. They should have spent their lives together but strings got in the way—family ties, career objectives, and the tangled web of fate.
Will the Merino Rose bring the two star-crossed lovers together at last, or will their love live only in the melancholy sound of distant violins?
Strings: A Love Story is now available in bookstores, online and wherever books are sold.
Listen to the music of Strings!
(8 tunes, 53 minutes)
The complete list of music mentioned in the book:
Camelot, musical by Alan Jay Lerner and Fredreick Loewe
“Star of the County Down,” an Irish ballad
“Simple Gifts,” a Shaker hymn by Elder Joseph Brackett (also used by Aaron Copland for the score of Martha Graham’s ballet Appalachian Spring)
Sonata for Two Violins in C Major, Op. 56, by Sergei Prokofiev
Caprices, Op.1: No. 24 in A Minor, by Niccolo Paganini
Symphony No. 8 in B Minor “Unfinished,” by Franz Schubert
Symphonie espagnole in D Minor, Op. 21, by Edouard Lalo
Violin Concerto No. 3, Op. 61 in B Minor, by Camille Saint-Saens
Violin Concerto in D, Op. 77, by Johannes Brahms
Megan Edwards is the author of the travel memoir Roads from the Ashes, the humor book Caution: Funny Signs Ahead, and her debut novel Getting off on Frank Sinatra. She has lived and traveled extensively in Europe and spent nearly seven years “on the road” all over North America. Now at home in Las Vegas, Nevada, she is working on her next novel.
Book Launch Party, Megan Edwards launched Strings with “An Evening of Strings” at the ViewPointe Executive Suites in Las Vegas, NV on September 13th, 2017. Photos from the event are online here.
“Edwards’s prose glides as smoothly as Ted’s playing as she articulates how deeply teen love shapes her characters’ adult lives. Readers wanting to dwell on the melancholy of ill-timed loved will devour this beautiful novel.” — Publisher’s Weekly
“The book is charmingly told in first person by Ted. Teenaged angst and love at first sight mingle with missed chances and more mature obstacles. The love story is literally down to the last page before it gets sorted and there were times when I wondered if I would finish a love story or a bittersweet lost love book. I was swept along and it’s a book that practically reads itself as I sucked it down in record time.” —Jayne S. DearAuthor.com
“Megan Edwards has crafted a beautiful love story, rich with references to musical pieces, performance art and great literature. She incorporates views of life at an elite private boarding school with those of performing in concert venues in international locales. Besides being a story of love found and lost, hers is a story of family ties and the impact of submitting to or rejecting expectations. Edward’s Strings is a truly superb story that will illicit thoughts of lost loves and possibilities to which anyone who has ever been in love can easily relate.”—-Ruth Mormon, Goodreads.com and RoadTripAmerica.com
***** “It’s an old fashioned love story (as opposed to a “romance” book). It starts at the (nearly) end, and then works its way back from Teddy, the protagonists early relationship with Olivia. It then charts their lives through his eyes. The drama of the book is contained and gentle. I couldn’t stop reading, I was meant to be sleeping, but stayed up far too late. A beautiful book.” —-Sharon Weiss, Goodreads.com
***** “This wasn’t a book with tear your clothes off hot sex. This book was a slow burn, a symphony that made you want to turn the next page. You wanted to hear more because deep down inside you wanted Ted and Olivia to be together. You wanted them to somehow find their way back to each other no matter the distance. This book was a shining jewel. I really thought it was the perfect story to read on a summer day in a hammock. It took you all over the world but deep in its heart was a love story. A really good love story.” —-Gina Horn, Goodreads.com and SipReadLove.com
**** “I love this story! A love story and music as one can hope for. Filled with the atmosphere and beauty.” —-Britt Pegg, Goodreads.com
**** “As a musician, I found the theme particularly interesting – especially the story of the Merino Rose
violin. (It would be good to re-read the book, this time listening to the music at the same time.) I was glad that Ted chose his love of music over familial expectations for his life’s course, & that his successful career justified that choice. Also that true love endured, although I was very surprised that it took them so long to sort that out! I do believe that once you have met the ‘one’ special person who is right for you, no-one else will measure up.” —-Dr. Pike, Goodreads.com
“That someone whose main muse is not music can so completely nail the most important part of every musician’s journey is pretty surprising. Strings is a delightful look–both literal and metaphorical–at the point where we stop worry about playing the notes and start making music.” — William Evans, SoundProLive
“If you love classical music then you’ll absolutely love this story. You’ll be able to appreciate the role that music and the violins have played in Ted’s life and what Olivia was to him. There were many great songs referenced as well, and the play Camelot. This was a great element to make this standout from being a typical romance story.” — Jessica Robins, jessicamapreviews.com
“There’s actually a hint of mystery that kept me turning the pages cover to cover… I chose to listen to the musical selections in the story every time one was mentioned. It made for a very beautiful story musically and literally.”— Debi Lantzer, 2014 and Beyond.com
**** “Strings: A Love Story is very different from Megan Edward’s other work. Without the car chases and murder her other books are known for, what is left is an achingly beautiful, and somewhat atypical, love story. I couldn’t put it down after the first fifty pages. This book is certainly worth the read! — Rebecca Guthrie, Goodreads Reviewer
****It’s bittersweet but once again Megan Edwards writing is compelling. I couldn’t put this book down. I read it on my phone every chance I got. It’s pretty character-driven, but I really enjoyed it.” –Kate Unger, OpinionatedBookLover.com
“A heartfelt, unique and engrossing love story combining Ted Spencer’s two passions: his childhood love for playing the violin (a prodigy), and since high school, his abiding love for Olivia. Strewn with metaphorical notes, Edwards takes us through their adult years creating a depth of each character that builds like a crescendo in a symphony. Artfully written, I found Strings an enriching musical experience that I’d highly recommend.” — Joan Jackson, author of Voluntary Chaos and Just in Time.
“What a delightful love story! Falling for each other when they were cast as Lancelot and Guenevere in a school production of Camelot, Ted and Olivia are a darling couple. Their story is full of heartbreak, separations, loves and losses as they grow and develop as lovers as well as artists. I couldn’t put it down.” — Chellie Campbell, author of The Wealthy Spirit
***** “This was an enjoyable book which I read in one day. It is very well written and I think it would make a wonderful movie. If your looking for a feel good book this is a great choice.” — Annette Herbst, Librarian, NetGalley reviewer
“I did not expect this story to sustain itself for an entire book, but it was surprisingly riveting; had this been a movie there would have been a lot of yelling at the screen, soundtracked by tears. The most unexpected thing was how nicely it all wrapped up. The violin’s history, despite it being fiction, is exactly the kind of thing I like to read in these sorts of books. And for once I felt like the couple deserved their ending.”— Paul Franco, Goodreads Reviewer
“Strings: A Love Story is a heartfelt tale of love and music played out through the lives of Ted and Olivia. Told from Ted’s point of view, the reader is taken back in time to Ted’s youth when he first met Olivia and fell in love and then later journeys through their years of adulthood. The story is rich with details of memories and music, as each chapter leaves the reader wondering if the two lovers will ever truly be together. Then there’s the mystery of the Merino Rose violin…where did it come from? What does it mean? Such great questions leave the reader wanting more. Definitely a love story worth the read!” — Buffy J, NetGalley Reviewer
“I thoroughly enjoyed Strings: a Love Story by Megan Edwards. It held my interest so that I found it difficult to put the book down and ended up reading it in practically one sitting.”— Carol Kaufman Segal, entertainment journalist
“This book is sweet, nostalgic, and is about love overcoming obstacles. I loved how the book was about how sometimes true love comes and goes from your life but if it’s meant to be eventually it will come back to you. That was a really sweet part of this book for me and the ending was really kind of perfect.”— Krysten, why-girls-are-weird.com
“This is a captivating, vividly musical read. I love anything that combines my love of books and music. This is a romantic book that anyone who loves a good love story will want to pick up and read.”— Lindsey Kramer, NetGalley reviewer
***** “I truly enjoyed this well written romance. Good plot and great character development.”— Marcia Stewart, Goodreads reviewer
“I really enjoyed reading this book! A lovely, romantic story told in a very compelling manner. Its characters are finely drawn and has situations everyone can relate to. I was captivated by the story line and couldn’t wait to get back to it to find out what was going to happen. The pages just flew by! It was delightful and I am sure anyone who likes theater, music and romance will love it!.”— Maria Pazos, Fine Artist
“I devoured my pre-publication copy as a classical music lover…Megan Edward’s creative writing shown by spectacular descriptions and themes followed by a phenomenal ending makes a powerful combination.”— Daniel C. Lavery, Naval aviator and civil rights attorney
***** “It was, truly, my pleasure to read and review Ms. Edwards’ novel: Strings: A Love Story. I hope that others will find themselves as taken and transported as I was. I will admit that music has always been a great part of my personal life and knowing about classical music allowed this novel to fit me like a favorite pair of well worn jeans with a cashmere sweater. For every unfinished life story, that is the unfinished symphony that Ted and Olivia live and love through. “— Marcy Sue Larkin, NetGalley Reviewer
*** “A sweet, musical story… recommended for music lovers! The musical terms were explained well, giving the lay reader an idea about what’s going on!”— PK, NetGalley Reviewer
“Strings: A Love Story is a heartfelt tale of love and music played out through the lives of Ted and Olivia. Told from Ted’s point of view, the reader is taken back in time to Ted’s youth when he first met Olivia and fell in love and then later journeys through their years of adulthood. The story is rich with details of memories and music, as each chapter leaves the reader wondering if the two lovers will ever truly be together. Then there’s the mystery of the Merino Rose violin…where did it come from? What does it mean? Such great questions leave the reader wanting more. Definitely a love story worth the read!”— Buffy Jameson, NetGalley Reviewer
“I had a wonderful few days reading this book. I loved it. To start with, it was a good size to handle and not too long. I liked the feeI of the paper it was printed on. I have a Kindle, but I really prefer to read actual books. The font is artistic, a good size, and very easy to read. The cover is lovely. It looks like the words are dancing to music. I like the way the words “a love Story” are tucked between the word “Strings” and the violin. When I started reading Strings, the first time a musical selection was mentioned, I put the book down and listened to the entire selection on line. I was going to do that for every selection mentioned. But, everytime another composition was mentioned, I couldn’t put the book down.”— Liz Franco Bradley,
“I truly enjoyed this well written romance. Good plot and great character development.”— Marcia Stewart, NetGalley Reviewer
The Merino Rose is sitting on my coffee table. I can see it in the lights I left blazing in the practice room, but seeing it doesn’t make it any more believable.
What’s even more incredible is that the Merino Rose—“the violin of angels”—is actually mine. The Brahms Violin Concerto was played for the first time on this violin.
The King of Strings.
And it doesn’t even exist. The Merino Rose was destroyed in the Trieste Opera fire in 1881. Everybody knows that. If a Guarnerius with inlaid roses around the back edge shows up at auction, it’s got to be a fake.
Except—maybe not. What keeps those forgeries coming is that no one can prove that the fire destroyed the Merino Rose. No one can even prove the violin was actually in Trieste. It was Vittorio Bonacci who was there. Was the Merino Rose with him? Was he the thief who stole it from Joseph Joachim’s Berlin conservatory?
The questions don’t matter anymore. The violin is real. It’s been gone for more than a century, and it vanished before reliable sound Strings recording was invented. Even so, the legend of the Rose’s unsurpassed brilliance has lived on. It defies reason, but the world still mourns the loss of a violin no one alive has ever heard.
I knew this was the Rose the instant I heard that one note. Yes, I have years of experience playing and appraising stringed instruments, but that knowledge only served to corroborate what I knew the moment I plucked that string. The Merino Rose is more than a haunting memory. The world will soon find out that one of its loveliest treasures still occupies three dimensions.
I can already see the cameras, the microphones, the throngs of reporters. When I say the word, they’ll be here, each one more eager than the last to hear the edict of Edward Spencer IV. They consider me an undisputed authority, after all, an expert with unimpeachable credentials to give them the answer to the one question they’re all dying to ask.
Oh, they’ll listen in rapt silence while I play the Brahms, and they’ll pretend they care when I speak of the Rose’s sweet perfection. But that’s not what they’re really after. All they want is a number.
In the end I’ll give them exactly that, and they’ll go away happy, believing I have priced the priceless. They will never know what it really cost to bring the Merino Rose to my coffee table. Only Olivia knows, and she’s not here.
I discovered I was a string man when I was eight years old and attending summer camp in Idaho. The music counselor handed me a violin when I arrived, and the moment I felt the smooth wood under my fingers, I was smitten.
At first, it was the construction of the thing that captivated me. I come from a manufacturing family—yes, I’m a Spencer from the Spencer Luggage family—and I’d spent my early years hearing about the intricacies of design and fabrication. I’d hung around our factory in Los Angeles every day after school, and I could have constructed a suitcase single-handed by the time I’d finished fourth grade. The violin was far finer than a valise, and its curved surfaces fascinated me. Even the bow seemed like a work of art.
If you think it odd that I’d never touched a violin until I was eight, you’ve never met my father. Edward Spencer III thought music was fine, in its place. He’d sung with the Yale Alley Cats when he was in college, but that was over once the sheepskin traded hands. Singing was just wholesome recreation, the same as summer camp. There was no room for it in real life. Hobbies like building models belonged there—that was practical engineering. But music? Frank Sinatra on the hi-fi while you sipped your pre-dinner Scotch—that was where music belonged.
Fathers, however, have always had a hard time stifling their children’s infatuations. I was in love with the violin from that first moment of contact, and I spent the summer making it mine. The music counselor, happy to find an avid pupil, spent hours with me, got me excused from canoeing and archery. By the end of the summer, I could play.
And play I did. When my parents came to collect me on the last day of camp, I was the star of the talent show, the centerpiece of a group that included the music counselor and two of his friends who were members of the Spokane Symphony.
My parents were very proud, and they seemed to listen carefully when the music counselor told them I was a “natural talent.”
“He should have lessons,” Mike said, and he gave them the name of a teacher in Los Angeles.
My mother agreed that I should continue studying violin, and she arranged for lessons with Howard Stiles, who had just retired as concertmaster with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Mr. Stiles wasn’t the name my counselor had suggested. My mother moved in Los Angeles’ social stratosphere, and if her son was going to study violin, the teacher would have to be Someone.
Trade Paper: $13.00 US / $17.37 CDN ISBN: 978-1945501036
ePub: $9.99 US / $12.00 CDN ISBN: 978-1945501043
Audiobook: Unabridged (Still in production, this will be updated when completed)
$24.00 US / $32.19 CDN ISBN: 978-1945501067