River Aria by Joan Schweighardt
It’s 1928 and Estela Euquerio Hopper, an ambitious young woman from an impoverished area of Brazil, has landed a job at the New York Metropolitan Opera, though only to work in the sewing room. Her good fortune is due in part to her unique education and in part to the fact that her father is American. She hopes to make it from the sewing room to the stage, but there are obstacles in her way: her possessive father, her secretive cousin, and the wild temperament of the city itself in its pre-depression heyday.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult audiences
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 4 – R Rated
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I spent a decade traveling to and writing about the South American rainforest. My reading research was focused on the latter years of the rubber boom (for which Manaus, Brazil was the headquarters) and the years after it ended. The famous opera house in Manaus, the Teatro Amazonas, was my inspiration for River Aria.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Although River Aria is a standalone novel, it is also the third book in a trilogy. The first book, called Before We Died, tells the story of two young Irish American brothers from Hoboken, New Jersey who head to Manaus, Brazil in 1908 to make their fortune tapping rubber trees during the rubber boom. The brother who makes it back learns, years later, that he has a daughter (Estela) in Brazil, the result of a one-night romance with a part indigenous, part European woman. Estela's story is the subject of River Aria. Other primary characters include JoJo, her (so-called) cousin, who travels with her from Brazil to New York, Jack, her father, and Nora, her father's wife.
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