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Author Archive

The Secret Music at Tordesillas

The Secret Music at Tordesillas, by Marjorie Sandor

Release Date: June 15, 2020 from Hidden River Press

It is April, 1555, and Juana I of Castile, the Spanish queen known as “la loca,” has died after forty-seven years in forced seclusion at Tordesillas. Her last musician, Juan de Granada, refuses to depart with the other servants, forcing two functionaries of the Holy Office of the Inquisition to interrogate him in the now-empty palace. But is it really empty? Or is there, as Holy Office suspects, a heretic hidden on the premises, a converso secretly practicing the forbidden rites of Judaism? Only Juan knows the answer, and his subversive tale is at once a ballad of lost love and a last gambit to save a life—and a rich cultural and spiritual tradition on the verge of erasure.


The Late Interiors: A Life Under Construction

The Late Interiors( Arcade Publishing, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, May 2011)

On the cusp of mid-life, Sandor explores the wonder and fragility of a new marriage, an old house, and a new garden threatened by unexpected urban development. Comic and serious, spontaneous and reflective, The Late Interiors tells the story of five seasons of change and renewal in a woman’s life, braiding entries from a garden journal with short meditations and full-blown essays on our eternal—and contradictory—hunger for adventure and refuge. (more…)

Portrait of My Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime: Stories

Portrait of My Mother Cover(Sarabande Books, 2003)

Ten linked stories that explore the emotional snarls in a secretive Jewish family.
2004 Winner of the National Jewish Book Award in Fiction

Rachel Gershon’s family is full of secrets. In her Grandmother Eva’s house, the doors are shut and curtains are drawn at all times. Her mother, Clara, can “seal a piece of time like a letter and send it away,” and her father, Abe, saves his confession until he’s well beyond the grave. It is Rachel’s only consolation that someday she’ll have the whole story, that she might, if she listens carefully enough, be able to trace the whispers back past her home on the steep ocean cliffs of California to the Indiana college town in the 1930s where it all began.

In “Elegy for Miss Beagle” a melodramatic young Clara daydreams of death, and romanticizes tragedy, until she is faced with her piano teacher’s sudden suicide. In the title story, Clara tries to cure the boredom that “slips over her like a harness” by secretly posing for an artist while she is pregnant. Later, in “God’s Spies,” Rachel witnesses how good adults can be at keeping secrets when her mother signs up to pose nude again, this time covered from head to toe in gold paint for a local Arts Festival. The ten linked stories of Portrait of My Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime, display a Chekhovian restraint, an exceptional richness and depth of insight into the strangeness at the heart of every family. Here, the profundity of everyday sadness is laid bare in lucid, quiet terms. Marjorie Sandor tells her stories like secrets, as if “some story under the story was trying to rise up.” (more…)

The Night Gardener: A Search for Home

The Night Gardner(The Lyons Press, 1999)

The Night Gardener is more than a memoir: it is a quest. Literature, music, the art of storytelling, fly-fishing, gardening as an expression of our deepest selves, the nature of memory, and the desire to story our own lives are its subjects. Ultimately, transcendence through storytelling is the secret strength at the heart of Sandor’s life, work, and play. These twenty essays form a startlingly honest and passionate narrative that strikes a mesmerizing balance between the domains of the domestic and the creative. Sandor is bold and heretical, witty and learned, From fishing in an alligator-infested lake and hiking through grizzly territory to seeking a way to ease her young daughter’s pain after separating from her husband, she explores wildness and solace in both the outdoors and the mind. (more…)

A Night of Music: Stories

Night of Music(The Ecco Press, 1989)

A Night of Music is about people, about the accumulation of events and possessions that can explain or betray them. Some escaped unscathed but many do not. A woman searches for the meaning of “mother” and “daughter” in an aged photograph of her grandmother, steeped in family legend, in “The Gittel.” A young Mexican girl holds a Victrola in her lap and is both witness and participant as her mother and her new lover begin a slow dance on a train moving through California. A brilliant accompanist measures the intentions of achievement and success in “The World is Full of Virtuosos.” These stories are rich with a keen participation in the details of childhood, religion, family, and home; a score filled with drama, pathos, tragedy, and the joy that lies beneath the rhythm of lives. (more…)