I have been a musician and teacher of singing and piano for most of my working life, but since 2004 I have written several books and have undertaken editing and proof-reading assignments. All the books below are available at my book store at: www.lulu.com/duettists
Margaret A. Plevin
This delightful book falls into the rare category of a personal memoir not about the person writing it but about two other people of talent.
The upshot is two main characters brought to vivid life by the minutiae of everyday living recorded over an almost epic period of time (forty plus years) and a third character, the author, thrown into equally stark relief by her interactions with, and reflection on, them. A further factor of great importance highlighted in the book is the fact of migration, the two main characters as well as the author all being British-born and living in South Africa for a fair spell. The complex interplay of all of the above makes for a fascinating read not encountered often these days with its tales of ready-made solutions to spuriously complex problems or, in fact, fairly shallow neuroses.
Overlying the innate complexity of the personal relationship of the three rounded characters referred to above is the many-splendoured realm of art in its guise of serious song taken to an even higher level of complexity in the spiritual sphere by the concurring of the author with Webster’s opinion their, or at least his, best work was done in the field of oratorio.
The shifting scenario, from the U K and the U S A to Johannesburg, Knysna, Somerset West, and finally back to the U K and, in particular Wales, makes for exciting reading in that the style reflects the differing emphases in great and loving detail. Following the aforegoing subtleties of shifting aspects of reality the set of memories of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth, adduced at the back, add a final lustre to a loving and complex portrait of several lives in vital and vibrant interplay.
All the foregoing aspects are made possible by a simple and direct prose style, which is one of the book’s greatest attributes, somewhat along the stylistic pleasures of Gaius Julius Caesar describing the Gallic and Roman civil wars and Blaise Pascal analysing mathematical and social structures. A salient example, chapter 16 on the 1973 East London production of The Mikado, will suffice, representing the truly complex undercurrents between professional and amateur ardours about the same production in an almost offhand mode encapsulated in a simple style of stark statement pregnant with knowing innuendo.
Therefore, in summation, a marvellous book about a fascinating subject really intelligently written. Read it and dare to contradict the above views.
Affirmation, January 27, 2009
By Ian Harris (Czech Republic)
Amazon Verified Purchase
Jean writes in a direct and, at the same time, very expressive style. I found that I was not able to put this book down until I had read the final page. This, surely, is the only true judgement of any writer’s craft!
DO YOU REMEMBER ANNE ZIEGLER & WEBSTER BOOTH? tells Pamela Davies’ fascinating story of her keen admiration of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth in the forties and early fifties. Shortly after Anne and Webster returned to the UK from South Africa in 1978, Pamela wrote to them to welcome them home again. This letter began a regular correspondence with Anne which led to Pam and Anne becoming good friends .
The book includes THE BODY OF WORK OF ANNE ZIEGLER AND WEBSTER BOOTH, compiled and edited by Jean Collen. Jean has listed many of their engagements on stage, screen, radio and television from 1924 to 1994.
Pamela Davies first heard Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth singing on the radio when she was a teenage evacuee in Devon in the early nineteen-forties. She became a staunch fan of the couple, attended as many of their performances as possible, collected press cuttings and made her own notes about the shows and concerts she saw.
When Anne and Webster returned from South Africa in 1978 she wrote to them to welcome them home. Much to her surprise, not only did Anne reply to her letter, but began a regular correspondence with her. After Webster’s death in 1984, Pam and her late husband, Walter took Anne out for lunch whenever they were in North Wales, and they became good friends.
This is an interesting account of Pam’s association with them over the years, first as a fan, and later as a friend. By no means is this an uncritical account by a starry-eyed fan, but tells of the couple’s loss of popularity after the war, leading to their decision to settle in South Africa from 1956 to 1978.
I can thoroughly recommend this fascinating and thoughtfully written book to those who are interested in the lives and careers of Anne Ziegler and Webster Booth.
This volume contains criticism & articles about recordings made by Webster Booth & Anne Ziegler from Gramophone (1929 to the present day). The book includes a discography of their solo and duet recordings and some of their surviving radio broadcasts.
My books are available at http:/www.lulu.com/duettists
I wrote a first draft of my novel, I Can’t Forget You in 1977 and only recently took it out of a drawer, edited it and published it on Lulu in 2010. In 2010 I also published a volume of short stories. These books are available at http://www.lulu.com/duettists
REVIEW By mjpotenza Any fan of short stories will enjoy this selection of entertaining tales by Jean Collen. The author presents women’s viewpoints, emotions, and experiences accurately and uniquely. The women characters are interesting, complex, and sympathetic (the men are mostly cads). One wonders how much is autobiographical. The writing is descriptive and precise. The style flows nicely, making for easy and pleasant reading. “The Wedding Singer”, “Miss Stratton Disappears”, and “The Sunset Gleams”, to name a few, all have the right combination of humour and sadness. In short, these well written stories are very enjoyable.
Review by Pearl Harris, proof reader, writer, editor and translator:
Each short story in this collection is refreshingly different and will touch a chord in the heart of most female readers. All the characters are masterfully and realistically portrayed. Many of the incidents depicted are those which affect all women at various times in their lives and with which the reader can readily empathise. Some bring a chuckle and a feeling of optimism, others a feeling of sadness. All left a lasting impression on me. Jean Collen’s voice is a charming mix, evidence of her Scottish, South African and musical roots. These stories particularly appeal to me as an expatriate South African, as many of them richly evoke the South African lifestyle. However, all are timeless in their own right and certainly worth reading by both women and men, whatever their nationality.
JUST THE ECHO OF A SIGH, the first novel in the Malcolm Craig trilogy, has strong leanings to a Roman à clef (a novel about real life, overlaid with a façade of fiction). It was written during November 2011 for NaNoWriMo, and traces the life and career of singing luminary, Malcolm Craig. He is a great tenor and has great success in his professional career, but his private life is far from tranquil. The book traces the course of his life, his career and his relationships from the 1920s to the beginning of World War Two.
FAINT HARMONY is the second novel in Roman à clef trilogy about Malcolm Craig, a great British tenor. This book covers his life from the outbreak of World War Two until 1956 when he was at the zenith of his singing career. His rise to fame as a singer is smooth, but his private life is increasingly turbulent. The first book of the series is entitled Just the Echo of a Sigh and covers his early life to 1939.
This is Jean Collen’s third novel. She has also written a volume of short stories and several non-fiction books about the lives and careers of Webster Booth and Anne Ziegler. All her books have a musical theme as she is a classical pianist and singer, and taught singing and piano until her retirement at the end of 2010. She is writing the final part of the Malcolm Craig trilogy, which will be entitled THE LONG DAY CLOSES.