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Saturday, October 10, 2015

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Author’s stories look at human frailties, strengths

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Journalist Fran Edelstein takes readers on an emotional voyage and through a variety of cultures in Set to Music and Other Stories, her first work of fiction.

The seven stories in this book explore many themes and feature a kaleidoscope of countries. Edelstein includes characters of various ages and families who live at various socio-economic levels. Her characters experience both love and loss, and the stories offer insights into human strengths and frailties.

 “The book is the fruit of many encounters with people and places that have profoundly affected me, all marinated in a good dose of imagination, fantasy, humour and reflection,” Edelstein says.

Edelstein, an octogenarian, was born in Montreal and raised in Toronto in the height of the Depression.

She says that she wanted to be a writer, but her financial situation forced her to get a paying job with the government.

“I always left bits of paper around the house scribbled with ideas and remembrances as they came to me.”

At age 42, she attended creative writing classes at Ryerson Polytechnical Institute (now Ryerson University). It was then that she wrote her first short story, The Mantilla, which is included in the book.

The story begins in Mexico and reaches into the lives of a group of diverse individuals. It is the mantilla that binds them all together.

Edelstein, a freelance journalist, has been published in the Canadian Antique Showcase, and she had a monthly column in Canadian Coin and Stamp News. Her feature articles have also been published in the Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun and the London Free Press.

A great-grandmother, Edelstein says she is passionate about storytelling. “I love my thesaurus, but I love people best.”

The title story, Set to Music, tells of a young piano virtuoso who is faced with overwhelming obstacles that require choices or the absence of choices. Anne is losing her sight because of a fall from her beloved horse. It is a love story that stirs the emotions.

Deedu is written through the eyes and with the language of a four-year-old boy. The child is fascinated with words. Deedu is the story of love between the young boy, an old man and a little girl, as well as about the choices that the boy makes.

Edelstein’s themes are challenging. In other stories, she writes about marriage, survivors and a nurse locked in a hospital cooler with the body of a killer.

Edelstein says she is currently writing her first novel, which will reintroduce one of the characters in the lead story of Set to Music and Other Stories.

“I won’t tell you what it is about,” she says. “It will spoil the surprise. I’ll just say that through music and the arts, for all nations of the world, is where peace might be found.”

Set to Music and Other Stories (iUniverse, Inc. Bloomington) can be ordered through or through a bookstore. It’s also available at the Toronto Public Library. For more information, visit

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