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Hilary Hauck

From Ashes to Song eBook

From Ashes to Song eBook

A young Italian composer who’s never ventured beyond his grandfather’s pervasive influence seeks a new start in 1911 America.

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Italy, 1911. Pietro’s life on the family vineyard is idyllic. He has at last captured the melody of the grape harvest on his clarinet and can’t wait to share his composition with his grandfather, but before he can play, news arrives of a deadly disease sweeping the countryside. They have no choice but to burn the vineyard to stop its spread. The loss is too much for Pietro’s grandfather, and by morning Pietro has lost two of the most precious things in his life—his grandfather and the vineyard. All he has left is his music, but a disastrous performance at his grandfather’s funeral suggests that music, too, is now beyond his reach. 

Adrift with grief, Pietro seeks a new start in America. He goes to work in a Pennsylvania coal mine where his musician’s hands blister and his days are spent in the muffled silence of underground.

When the beautiful voice and gentle heart of a friend’s wife stirs a new song in him, Pietro at last encounters a glimmer of hope. From a respectful distance and without catching the attention of her husband, Pietro draws on Assunta for inspiration and soon his gift for music returns. But when grief strikes in Assunta’s life, Pietro is to blame. When Prohibition steals Pietro’s last pleasure, he has to do something before Assunta’s grief consumes them both. 

Inspired by true events, From Ashes to Song is a story of unconventional love, hope, and the extraordinary gifts brought to America by ordinary people in the great wave of immigration.

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Chapter 1

the family vineyard, Piedmont, Italy. 1911

Pietro breathed lightly into his clarinet so his song would not travel the length of the grapevines that stretched like lines of music on either side of him. He didn’t want Nonno to hear it—not yet. On his oath, he’d make himself play it for him in the next week.

The song was Pietro’s first composition—not that anyone could credit him, he had simply captured the sounds of harvest, of the annual tending of plants whose roots had burrowed into the soil long before he’d been born.

Without a specific plan in mind, he had tucked away the beats and notes, adding new riffs each year until this summer, when it had all begun to spread out and rearrange in his mind. The paper-light tremble of leaves had given him the rhythm. It scampered so heartily it might have dissolved into chaos if it hadn’t been grounded by fruit held by the improbable strength of the vine. The grapes were a firm, reliable beat.

The only thing that had eluded him had been the ending, but now he had found it, he couldn’t imagine it any other way. It brought the music together, so it no longer felt like a rough sketch of a song, not telling the whole story at once as it did now.

He’d found the ending in the celebration that followed the end of the harvest when family and friends gathered around the table heaped with a feast that had taken an entire week to prepare. The culmination of the long season that brought both relief and melancholy for the end of the summer days, even though Pietro could depend on the same cycle beginning all over again next year.

At this year’s celebration, he’d wait until the food was gone and glasses filled with last year’s wine were raised to this year’s grapes, when he, Nonno, and the others gathered their instruments to shroud the night’s sky with song—that was when Pietro would play his music.
First, though, he needed the courage to play it for Nonno. Only then would he know if his efforts were worthy.

Meet the author

An Italian speaking Brit living in the US, Hilary Hauck is a bestselling,
award-winning author of historical and fantasy fiction featuring characters struggling
to find their inner amazing. Raised in the UK, Hilary later lived in Italy,
where she mastered the language, learned how to cook food she can no longer
eat, and won a national karate championship. After meeting her husband, she
came to the US and drew inspiration from Pennsylvania coal history for her
debut novel.

Learn more about Hilary