A Look Into Eli’s Heart
Eli’s Heart is a love story. Eli Levin is born in the middle of the twentieth century with a frightening and complicated heart defect. He is also a piano prodigy. As a young teenager, he visits a small Southeastern town (Eli is a New Yorker) and meets Krissy Porter, a girl who is a few months younger.
Eventually, they marry, and Krissy must learn to deal with the challenges Eli faces. They are passionate and devoted to each other. They experience good times and bad times over the years. How they handle these is the essence of the story.
Yes, Eli’s Heart is a love story, but it is not a “romance” novel. It’s about the characters and the life they share. It’s about the vital importance of music in their lives. It’s about how they deal, separately and together, with Eli’s damaged heart – a heart filled with music. I think the reader will laugh, and cry, and come to care about these people and what happens to them.
Here’s a taste of the book. This is the “Prelude.” I hope it makes you want to read the entire story.
FLYING HOME FROM MOSCOW
It was the final night of the Moscow International Music Competition. In the aptly named Hall of Columns, with its massive Corinthian pillars, three-tiered crystal chandeliers and plush red seats, the large audience of world-class musicians and music lovers generously applauded the Award announcements.
The twenty-two year old American violinist Warren Anderson had just been awarded the gold medal. His accompanist, twenty-nine year old American pianist Eli Levin, then received a special award in recognition of his brilliance. It was the first time such an award had ever been presented at this event.
Eli’s wife Kristina was overwhelmed when Eli’s award was announced. The audience stood and applauded, those near Eli voicing their approval: “Well done!” “Très bien!” “Bravo!” “Pozdravlaiu!” Everyone who had heard him recognized his genius, and the judges had as well.
Eli bent to embrace his petite wife and, flushed with excitement, hurried to the stage to accept the award. Krissy watched through tears as her slender, dark-haired husband accepted a medal from the judges.When he returned to Krissy, he pressed the medal into her hands and bent down to speak to her softly: “This is for you, my sweet girl.” He held her close as she rested her face against his chest and wept for joy.
Warren, Eli, and Krissy had traveled to Moscow together. The trip was a surprise for Krissy. Warren’s sponsors had provided her ticket and Eli had arranged with Maestro Aaron Rubin, General Director of the City Opera Company for whom Krissy was Personal Assistant, to give her the more than three weeks she needed to accompany them. Eli knew his wife had always wanted to visit Russia. It meant a great deal to him to make it possible, and Krissy was thrilled.
The evening after the competition ended they were at the airport preparing for the long trip home, flying first to Paris and then to New York. They left as the sun was setting. As the Boeing 707 lifted into the air, the spires and onion domes of the city soon disappeared into the concentric circles of light surrounding the Kremlin. The sky on the horizon faded from a pale blue to a soft rose to a deep purple.
Krissy wanted to give Eli a sleeping pill but he shook his head; he was tired enough to sleep without it. They were in the first class cabin, and Warren was across the aisle from them, the Amati violin he had played positioned securely beside him. That violin, valued at over one million dollars and borrowed from a collector, had not left his side the entire trip.
Eli stretched his legs out as best he could. Krissy asked the stewardess for a blanket, and tenderly tucked it around her husband and herself. He smiled at her, rested his head on her shoulder, and soon after takeoff, he was sleeping soundly in the darkened cabin. She carefully removed his glasses and put them in her handbag.
Eli was born with a defective heart. He had received a second surgery for the condition only months earlier, and even though he had seemed tireless and energetic throughout the competition, Warren noticed on the drive to the airport that he looked exhausted. No doubt that was why Krissy wanted to be sure her husband received some needed rest on the flight.
Warren had also stretched out, and he could see Krissy’s warm brown eyes as she watched Eli sleep. She looked at him as if he were the most priceless thing on earth, a treasure almost unimaginable. He envied Eli this kind of love, a love he seldom saw even between the most devoted couples. He leaned across the aisle and said to her softly, “What are you thinking, Krissy, when you look at Eli like that?”
She said, not taking her eyes off Eli, “That I can’t believe I’m with this incredible man. That I’ve been given a gift I can’t even describe.” She gently touched his head, stroking the dark, curly hair as she so often did. She smiled at Warren.
“He’s very fortunate to have you,” Warren said. “I know he adores you. He’s told me that many times.”
Krissy looked again at her sleeping husband and kissed his temple softly. “I’m the fortunate one, Warren. I lost him, years ago, not long after I met him. Eli brought us back together. I treasure every minute I have with him.”
“Sounds to me like there’s a story behind that,” Warren said, settling back in his seat.
She smiled but didn’t reply. Indeed there is, she thought. With a noble prince who rescues a damsel in distress, a wicked queen, and a sleeping dragon. A story with an unknown ending.