“Reading them for the first time, Victoria was struck by the written words: I will do what people want but only as I want it to be. They summarised pithily her own approach to life.”
A Motif of Seasons: The Story
Overshadowing the social games and vindictive gossip of the European elite, a dark and threatening cloud steadily draws across Europe. On 28th June 1914 an Austro-Hungarian archduke is assassinated and the mounting tension finally snaps. War is declared and the lives of two families will be changed forever.
Set in the latter half of the 19th century, A Motif of Seasons tells the stories of two powerful European families – the von Deppes in Germany and theWhitfields in England – still locked in an ancient rivalry, triggered by an ancestral union. The unexpected marriage in 1766 between the beautiful, capricious and musically accomplished young Arabella Whitfield and the older Prussian military officer Count Carl Manfred von Deppe has left a legacy of distrust and prejudice.
Against the backdrop of a widening and destructive gulf between England and Germany, A Motif of Seasons follows three women – Victoria Elise von Böhm, Alice Bartlett and Arabella von Eisenwald – kindred spirits of the feisty Arabella, who share her musical talent and her passion for life. The three women find love, uncover family secrets locked away in an 18th-century music book and define their individuality in a patriarchal landscape of social straitjackets and dictated norms. But the past proves a formidable opponent.
With tales of hidden illegitimate children, sensual affairs and young soldiers braving the horrors of First World War battlefields, A Motif of Seasons is an adventurous, gripping and touching epic about family, love and social freedom.
Edward Glover answered our questions: Why did you decide to set the book in World War One? What fascinates you about this period?
Before completing my first novel, I had already decided that the legacy of a bitter conflict between two well-heeled landed families – which began with a marriage in 1766 between a beautiful, musically gifted and headstrong English young woman just escaped from betrayal and darkness in the seamy side of London and an older aristocratic Prussian army officer – could only end in the tragedy of the First World War; a conflict which engulfed not only two proud nations but also families and communities regardless of rank or wealth. No one escaped the tally of death.
Germany and Britain, though bitter and jealous rivals in Europe and beyond, had never intended to go to war but their best intentions not to do so were in the end swept aside by the consequences of pride, territorial ambition, personal jealousy and the eventual unstoppable force of the German military machine. The confrontation of the two opposing armies across the western front, epitomised in the bloody Battle of the Somme in 1916, was for me the inevitable backdrop against which the final stages of the poisonous rivalry and misunderstanding between the two families had to be played out, despite the efforts of characters in both families to try to put the past behind them – to break free from a gilded and suffocating past. For the three principal women characters, it was primarily their wish to secure sexual freedom and love. But the division, rivalry and hatred of the past were a formidable foe – human nature at its worst.
The eventual bloodshed and cruelty of war overwhelmed families in both countries, regardless of their position in the social hierarchy. The two families in A Motif of Seasons suffered in equal measure. Misery and loss of life was the only way the past could be finally buried.
A Motif of Seasons by Edward Glover is out now. Available to order here
The Herzberg Trilogy
A Motif of Seasons is the last in a trilogy following the von Deppe and Whitfield families. Each book can be read as a stand-alone novel. The first two books,The Music Book and Fortune’s Sonata, tell the stories of the two families across the 18th and early 19th centuries, against the background of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. The idea for the series came to Edward when, in a Berlin street market in the 1980s, he found a British passport, dated 3rd October 1853, signed by Lord Clarendon, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, issued to Mr Robert Whitfield, so he and his family could travel to Germany.
About Edward Glover
Following a Foreign Office diplomatic career during which his overseas assignments included Washington, Berlin, Brussels and the Caribbean, Edward Glover advised on foreign ministry reform in Macedonia, post-invasion Iraq, Kosovo and Sierra Leone. More recently, for seven years he headed a 1-million-acre rainforest-conservation project in South America on behalf of the Commonwealth Secretariat.
Edward sits on the board of trustees of the Welsh environmental charity Size of Wales, is vice-chairman of the Foreign and Commonwealth Association, an associate fellow of the University of Warwick’s Yesu Persaud Centre for Caribbean Studies, where he chairs a scholarships committee, and a member of the board of the King’s Lynn Preservation Trust. One of his greatest personal achievements is running the London Marathon in 2014.
He is married to Dame Audrey Glover, a former Foreign Office legal adviser and now an international human-rights lawyer. They live in Norfolk.