||Aug 30, 2006
"If only I could... will take you on an unforgettable journey through life, hope, renewed joy and love that spans geographical borders to realms beyond our understanding." Deborah Cullins Smith
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Amazon.com's Author Page of Greg M. Sarwa
What if you had just learned that your days are about to come to an end? Would you quietly accept your destiny, or would you fight this one final battle?
What if the vanished love of your life had crossed your path once more? Would you let that love slip away once again, or would you embrace that elusive joy, even if only for a while?
And what if the demons of your past disturb the delicate reconciliation you thought you had found?
These are the questions facing John Kadel in If only I could..., a simple story about love. This is not a romance. It is a tale of the true and lasting love everyone dreams about-the undeniable love only some find in a lifetime of searching. John Kadel is a stubborn, single old man with a colorful past and questions for which he has no answers. Not long after his doctor hands him a death sentence, John runs into someone from his past.
"If Only I Could " (Excerpt from the book)
They stopped at the top of the few stairs, and stared out over the street. Of course, it wasn’t the first time they had been to Old Town at night, but they found themselves struck anew by the beauty spread before their eyes. Fascinated, they stared at the facades of the tenement houses, glowing in the streams of light coming from the thousands of streetlamps. Below them, even at this late hour, the streets were filled with people who all seemed to be headed toward the lights of the Square. Being careful to hold hands and avoid becoming separated in the bustle of the crowds, they plunged into the flow of traffic, allowing the wonder of the night to set their course. They found themselves immersed in music from every direction. It wasn’t a single tune, but a sea of simultaneous compositions, bombarding them from various sources and wrapping around them in sweet perfection. The wide assortment of notes didn’t bring discord, but blended together, building into a strangely supernatural symphony.
Amidst the rhythmic cacophony of music, Agatha and John glided into the Square, where they were able to pause, taking in the beauty of the night. Café tables twinkled with candlelight, and the buildings seemed to glow with a life of their own, imbued with a magical quality that sparkled like waves in the moonlight shadow. The clatter of thousands of people was barely audible over the rise and fall of the music floating through the Square on gentle breezes. Above the buildings, the moon hid for a moment behind a small gray cloud as if afraid to steal the show down here in the glittering city. Bewitched white horses pulled a white carriage with newlyweds snuggled into the worn leather seats behind a sleepy driver. On a little wooden box, a mime clothed in golden garb performed, bowing with a flourish and a foolish smile every time he had heard the clink of a coin land in the basket next to him. A short, blind fiddler, dressed in an old black tuxedo and pink frilled shirt, slid a bow over his violin strings in melancholic medleys. A few steps away another mime, a woman clothed in a diaphanous white gown and covered in white face paint, seemed to float a little above the ground like a ghost. Several couples in historical attire danced in steps that had been long forgotten by new generations. In another corner of the Square, three young girls held containers connected with metallic string and performed a ritual dance. Throwing chained fireballs up in the air, they drew fascinating figures with them on the dark canvas of the sky, a prayer to the ancient gods of fire. By the entrance of his favorite small café, an old bearded man sat at his table, as he had night after night, year after year. He always wore the
same hat, and held the same book on his lap, the same coffee cup waiting on the table for his next sip, while he observed the nightlife of Old Town. John swore that he could see a smile playing over the bronzed face. On the other side of the old man, a few street urchins turned up a large CD player and began to spin to the beat of their raucous music. Onlookers formed a circle, and the boys turned and twisted in wild pirouettes, standing on their heads and tossing their legs up into the air. In all of this excitement, the sound of a trumpet floated from the St. Mary’s tower, blending with the sounds of the Square, but barely heard above the din. Right in the heart of the city, it could be read from their faces something had happened between them.
Cuddled together, Agatha and John observed the enchantment of the city, knowing that each night in Old Town was a celebration—romantic, mysterious, but changing in flavor with every sunset. The festival overflowed with supernatural music and magical, dreamlike lights, and the goal didn’t rest in the performances or the amusement of the city’s guests. The prize was called oblivion.
Fate is sometimes undeniably cruel, at others, a gracious soothing mother to us all. When faced with harsh truth should we fight back with all we are worth? Or is it sometimes better to let fate take over and accept the outcome? What if the love of a soul mate is involved? Should we jump at a chance at happiness? Greg M. Sarwa addresses these questions and more in the novel "If Only I Could...."
John Kadel is an old man, living in a nursing home, accepting of the mistakes he has made in his life, but not accepting of the fate his doctor has advised him of. Time is growing short. Funny that Fate would also step in to shove his long lost love into his back, sending him sprawling to the sidewalk. Their lives were crossed since early childhood; they were destined to be together, but a few very bad decisions left them apart. Is it too late now? At what cost is happiness found at last?
This novel is the best soul mate story I have ever read. Well-written and balanced in descriptive scenes, dialogue, and plot, it is a page-turner I didn't want to put down. But then, neither did I want the tale to end. Greg Sarwa is a talented author to keep an eye on.
Tami Brady, an Amazon.com Top 500 Reviewer
John Kadel lives a very simple life. He reads a lot- mostly to keep from thinking about the past. In fact, John spends quite much of his time trying to forget his memories. For the most part, John has even succeeded in this task. None of his friends really know anything substantial about his life and sometimes John even convinces himself that nothing of consequence happened in the past.
Then, a series of life changing events begins. John finds out he is dying. At first, he is almost relieved that his life is over. However, this attitude soon changes when John bumps into his past- or rather she bumps into him.
If only I could... reminds us that life is short and regrets have a life of their own but at any time we can choose to really live and to choose love once again. What would you do if you were dying? What would be your biggest regret?
There is no love equal to the first love. No matter who we marry, how our lives change and how many loves we have, it's that first love that leaves an undeniable blemish on our hearts. Such is the case for John and Agatha, the lovers in Greg M. Sarwa's second novel, If only I could...
John lives in a nursing home. His alluded-to checkered past is never clear but readers do learn that he never got over his first love Agatha. He never moved on, never married and is now waiting on the inevitable-death, which the doctors say will come sooner than later.
Agatha has led a full life, having children and a wonderful marriage to a man who does not quite capture her heart the way John did. She considered her life a good one and now spends the majority of her time helping with the grandkids.
A chance meeting on the street in an unnamed city (my guess is somewhere in Europe and probably Poland, based on the author's biography) leads the couple to rekindle the fires that once burned so bright. Both are secretive about their affair. John keeps it from his neighbor and probably best friend Frank, while Agatha isn't exactly forthcoming with her children. It doesn't really matter; they have found each other and can enjoy what remains of their lives.
Sawra's sweet story is interrupted by flashbacks to the couple's school days and their meeting. The flashbacks are jarring in the fact that he never names John and Agatha. They are called the Boy and the Girl. This structure diminishes the reader's ability to join in John and Agatha's renewed sparkle as they spend quiet days roaming the square in Old Town, going for walks, dinner, and the movies.
Their romance seems doomed when Agatha introduces John to her children. Her son, Johnny, is not happy that he is named for her mother's lover, but it illustrates how deeply that first love marks the human soul. If only I Could... gives readers the opportunity to reflect on their first loves and wonder what happened to the person who remains hidden deep within their heart.
Armchair Interviews says: A nice story of first loves.
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