To My Darling Granddaughter
If you are reading this letter I know you are on your way to Vienna to follow the trail of the one who once bore your name. Notice how I am not asking how you learned about her? There are only two people who could have told you about my second sister; my wife, or your Great Aunt Lydia. I was never able to get either to swear that they would keep silent about her, no matter how deeply the pain of her memory remains in my heart.
Your mother knew. I think she found the journals and read them. I am still not sure how that happened, although I have my suspicions. Your father never knew. We never discussed his aunt, not ever. His wife, however, was constantly making sure all the corners of the townhouse where these books were kept remained clean and free of cobwebs. The person I am writing about in this journal, is she whom you got your name from, and it is as beautiful as she was. She was one I loved with all my heart, as I love you.
Perhaps the women in my life whom I have loved the most have been right about how I handled the portion of my life that contained that sister. I have no answers to explain why I have done what I have. In remembering, however, I wrote these journals. The contents within them hold the memory of the last year we were together. They keep her alive as she is in my memory to this day. You, my sweetheart, are the living spirit of what she was.
I like to watch you, as I did her, as you dance. Light, carefree, so full of the bloom of life. You float over the ballroom floors lost in the music of the waltzes you so love. My sister was like that, her every movement was like watching a butterfly floating in the air, gracefully epitomizing the spirit of the tunes the masters dreamed. They were but a tribute to her beauty.
I do not say this lightly my beautiful butterfly. I say this because you are so much like her in many ways. You flit through life and nothing touches you, yet you love deeply and selflessly. You spread beauty and grace wherever you go. Anyone who experiences the light of your life longs for its touch forevermore. Unfortunately, as you are like my sister in all ways that are good, you show some of her faults as well. You can be headstrong and often unthinking about what you are doing or saying, but these are the traits of youth. I hope that you find what you are seeking with this trip of adventure you have embarked on.
I have asked Lady Marta to serve as Chaperone for you while you travel, to protect your reputation. She was more than happy to do this, as she loves you like a daughter. I have written to your Great Aunt Lydia and your Great Uncle Wolfgang, to let them know you are coming. I hope the letters get to them before you do. I would not like to think of you stranded in a foreign country with no guidance or protection.
You will find the bundle of journals along with the letter I have written, read them all. You will find not only the reasons for my pain, but my love. Read now my darling Janice, and get to know my sister Janice as a living, breathing person.
Your Loving Grandfather, Martin
Dated April 12, 1864
After discovering some old journals that belong to her grandfather Janice finds he has been hiding a painful memory of a sister he once had. She is determined to find out more and after confronting him she leaves for the country of his birth to learn more from his family. She has wrung some of the story out of him. She learns that she looks like her grandaunt and was named after her. He told her how beautiful his sister was, how popular and loved she had been, but refuses to talk about her in any detail.
As Janice travels she learns that her grandfather expected her to go to his former home. In her luggage she finds her grandfather’s journals that detail the last years of his sister’s life along with a couple letters from him. She begins to read and is pulled into the glittering whirlwind of her grandaunt’s life. A world where the Janice that was, reigned as the social Queen of Viennese society and was loved by one and all, but especially by the man she eventually married. As she closes the journal she is more determined than ever to get to know the world and people her grandaunt knew, and to bring joy to their world in memory of the woman who was.
Wolfgang has lived all of his life under the shadow of his illegitimacy. He dwelt with a granduncle, a man who raised him like a son. He watched his granduncle live with the memory of a woman he couldn’t let go, even when death stole her from him. He could easily understand the attraction when he gazed at her portrait, but not the reasons. Not until he meets the woman who not only bares her name, but shares her beauty and personality.
As Wolfgang watches Janice from the doorway he not only sees a woman that resembles the lady he has admired in the portrait his granduncle coveted, but the woman he falls instantly in love with. Like his granduncle, he is determined to win her hand and love, no matter the cost, for despite the pretense of Janice’s appearance he knows that underneath the veneer beats the heart of a woman who will make him happy for the rest of eternity.