Tour and Giveaway for The Wisdom of the Flock by Steve M. Gnatz

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Book Details:

Book Title:  The Wisdom of the Flock: Franklin and Mesmer in Paris by Steve M. Gnatz

Category:  Adult Fiction (18+),  541 pages

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Publisher:  Leather Apron Press

Release date:   January 2021

Content Rating:  PG-13. There is mild (romantic) sexual content and very mild profanity.

View the book trailer here:

Book Description:

1776: Benjamin Franklin sails to Paris, carrying a copy of the Declaration of Independence, freshly signed. His charge: gain the support of France for the unfolding American Revolution. Yet Paris is a city of distractions. Ben’s lover, Marianne Davies, will soon arrive, and he yearns to rekindle his affair with the beautiful musician.

Dr. Franz Mesmer has plans for Marianne too. He has taken Parisian nobility by storm with his discovery of magnétisme animale, a mysterious force claimed to heal the sick. Marianne’s ability to channel Mesmer’s phenomena is key to his success.

A skeptical King Louis XVI appoints Ben to head a commission investigating the astonishing magnétisme animale. By nature, Ben requires proof. Can he scientifically prove that it does not exist? Mesmer will stop at nothing to protect his profitable claim.

The Wisdom of The Flock explores the conflict between science and mysticism in a time rife with revolution, love, spies, and passion.

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The Wisdom of the Flock: Franklin and Mesmer in Paris by Steve M. Gnatz is and interesting view of Franklin sailing to Paris with a copy of the Declaration of Independence, and the time he spent in France. There is a lot to learn here and the author gives his thoughts on what it was like. I found the characters well thought out and crafted and I think they all played their parts well as the story unfolds. I enjoyed the vivid descriptions of historical France the happenings there and all that went on as he told Benjamin Franklin’s detailed journey in France. Each scene crafted was told with expertise and detail throughout the places there during that Era. Gnatz takes us on an interesting journey with a compelling story that is mixed with true facts as well as a bit of fiction made up through the mind and eyes of this author.

Being a musician, one thing I especially enjoyed was  Marianne Davis and her love for music. Though I know how glass can be musical, I had never heard of the glass armonica Franklin built for Marianne. How I would love to hear Marianne play the glass armonica today. I enjoyed learning even more about this instrument in the interview from the author published here. I encourage you to read this wonderful and interesting interview. I enjoyed this book very much, though it was pretty long, and for me I think it could have been shortened a bit if a lot if the unnecessary words could have been taken out. All in all it is an interesting read. The author’s extensive research is evident here as well as his love and knowledge for the historical icon Benjamin Franklin. I encourage others to check The Wisdom of the Flock: and Mesmer in Paris by Steve M. Gnatz out. Whether you are a history buff or maybe just wanting an interesting historical story.

A special thanks to the author/publisher for a copy of this book. I am not required to write a positive review, the opinions here are mine alone. I am disclosing this with my review in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

And now an interesting interview with the Author Steve M. Gnatz

 

  1. What is a glass armonica and how does it figure in the book?

    Screenshot_20210405-093056_Docs
    Ben Franklin invented the glass armonica. The story goes that he was familiar with the musicians who used “musical glasses” to produce sound. This practice had probably been around nearly as long as glass itself. Ben observed in 1761, after seeing Marianne Davies perform on the musical glasses, that despite how beautifully she played, she appeared to be in pain from the activity. He devised an instrument that featured sequentially sized stacked glass bowls attached to a rod at their center and bathed in a tub of water. The rod was turned by a treadle mechanism, keeping the turning bowls bathed with water. The musician could then gently apply her finger to the appropriate bowl to produce the note she wanted – resulting in music without any pain. Ben had the very first glass armonica built for Marianne. Historians have questioned the nature of the relationship between them – but very little is known. For a time, Marianne was quite successful as a musician using the instrument that Franklin had invented for her. Later in her career though, in a letter featured in The Wisdom of the Flock, she lamented that Franklin no longer seemed to want to protect her “franchise” and that many other musicians were able to compete. I took advantage of the lack of detail in the historical record to create a relationship between Franklin and Marianne Davies that was already in place at the beginning of the book – but then also to explore how their relationship changed over time, ultimately leading to her disenfranchisement.
  2. How was Mesmer involved with the glass armonica?

    It is historically accurate that Mesmer obtained his copy of Marianne’s instrument during a time that she was playing in Vienna prior to the opening of The Wisdom of the Flock. But any romantic relationship between Mesmer and Marianne is a presumption, as there is no historical record one way or the other. Nonetheless, the glass armonica has a haunting, ethereal quality that Mesmer found useful in his seances. He is known to have played it very well himself. The glass armonica fell out of favor in the early 1800’s (but is recently enjoying somewhat of a revival) as it was felt to be associated with melancholy and madness. Some have theorized that this association was due to high lead content in the glass bowls. Mozart and many other composers wrote music for the glass armonica in its heyday – which can still be heard performed today. Of course, modern glass armonicas do not use leaded glass!
  3. Are there other examples of the role of music in The Wisdom of the Flock?

    Franklin was a music lover. He is known to have played the glass armonica, but mostly he was known to appreciate music and musicians. He is said to have loved listening to anyone playing Scottish Aires. I used the knowledge of Franklin’s love for music to help inform his relationship with Marianne. It is also known that he befriended Madame Brillon (an accomplished musician) and also a potential love interest, while in Paris. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was in Paris around the time of the book and makes a cameo appearance playing at private showing of the Beaumarchais play The Marriage of Figaro. The blind pianist Maria Paradis is featured, both due to her special relationship with Mesmer – for he is purported to have helped her (temporarily) regain her sight using magnetism animale – as well as her playing of a concert in Paris during Franklin’s time there. And Marco (a fictional character) and his merry band bond with Marianne and the others on the Seine in singing folk songs that they all instinctively know.
  4. What about the setting of your book? Have you been to Passy?

    I’ve been to Paris many times, but the area where Franklin stayed in Passy has changed significantly over time as the city expanded. In the late 1700’s, Passy and Auteuil were outside of the city gates of Paris. They were suburbs, if you will, or even perhaps more like separate country towns outside the walls. Today, you can see a small plaque not too far from the Eiffel tower that denotes the area where Passy and Auteuil used to be. The home of the Leray family (the Hôtel de Valentinois), depicted in The Wisdom of the Flock and where Franklin stayed during his time in France, is gone. The Kingswoods is now a city park. The Louvre was not a museum yet, but a government office building. The Tuileries Gardens and the Place Vendôme are very much the same as they were. In fact, I used my own recollection of the shadows among the colonnades of the Place Vendôme in creating the scenes of Mesmer’s quarters there – especially in the way people (such as Marianne) could drift in and out in a ghostly fashion. The Ile de la Cité and the Pont Neuf are still in the same places, but no doubt considerably more crowded than during Franklin’s time there. Still, it is fun to walk across the bridge and think about how Marianne might have scurried at night!
  1. The Wisdom of the Flock seems to be about human relationships, is it?

    Yes and no. I tried to use the narrative to weave a tale using historical characters (real and fictional) and give them personalities and qualities that would make them feel human to the reader. I wanted to tell the story using their dialogue. The superficial story does have a lot to do with my characters falling in (and out) of love. But my goal was also to tell a deeper story of the power of love and hope. As Ben reminds us – a definition of hope is a common vision of a better future. Perhaps at a subconscious level if we can envision a better future (whether it is in human relationships, the birthing the United States, or in health/wellness) we will see our hopes come to fruition.

Meet the Author:

Steve Gnatz is a writer, physician, bicyclist, photographer, traveler, and aspiring ukulele player. The son of a history professor and a nurse, it seems that both medicine and history are in his blood. Writing historical fiction came naturally. An undergraduate degree in biology was complemented by a minor in classics. After completing medical school, he embarked on an academic medical career specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. There was little time for

writing during those years, other than research papers and a technical primer on electromyography. Now retired from the practice of medicine, he devotes himself to the craft of fiction. The history of science is of particular interest, but also the dynamics of human relationships. People want to be good scientists, but sometimes human nature gets in the way. That makes for interesting stories. When not writing or traveling, he enjoys restoring Italian racing bicycles at home in

Chicago with his wife and daughters.

connect with the author:  website ~ facebook ~ goodreads


Tour Schedule:

Mar 29 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway

Mar 29 – Gina Rae Mitchell – book spotlight / giveaway

Mar 30 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway

Mar 31 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book review / giveaway

Apr 1 – Deborah-Zenha Adams – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway

Apr 1 – Sefina Hawke’s Books – book review

Apr 2 – Books Lattes & Tiaras – book review / giveaway

Apr 5 – Splashes of Joy – book review / author interview / giveaway

Apr 6 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway

Apr 6 – Books for Books – book review

Apr 7 – Laura’s Interests – book review / guest post / giveaway

Apr 7 – I Read What You Write – book review / guest post / giveaway

Apr 8 – PuzzlePaws Blog – book review / giveaway

Apr 8 – Kam’s Place – book spotlight / guest post

Apr 9 – michellemengsbookblog – book review / author interview / giveaway

Apr 9 – Stephanie Jane – book spotlight / giveaway

TBA – High Society Book Club & Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway

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