You, Fascinating You, by Germaine W. Shames, is not your average love story or average story of how love inspires musical compositions. It is a novel regarding the true story of the Hungarian ballerina Margit Wolf and the man who would become her husband, Pasquale Frustaci. He was known as “the Italian Cole Porter”, and was widely renowned for writing the song, You, Fascinating You, the book’s title.
Margit Wolf is an aspiring ballerina, extremely dedicated and passionate regarding ballet as a profession, and extremely gifted as well. She and three other women are chosen to perform in Italy. They arrive in Italy to find disappointment in their surroundings, as the theater is not grand in the scheme of things, and is really less than desirable a location to give a classic ballet performance. She meets maestro Pasquale Frustaci, and sparks begin to fly. They eventually marry and have a son named Cesare. She returns to Hungary to be with family, Frustaci remains in Italy.
Within a short period of time the Nazi rule overpowers everything. Margit fears for her son, pays to send him with a person who she is forced to entrust to deliver him to her husband, who is in Italy. He is receiving accolades as a composer, especially for his song, Tu Solamente Tu/You, Fascinating You.
Correspondence moves back and forth between husband and wife, and with each letter Margit receives, there is lack of clarity as to her son, Cesare, and also a seemingly indifference to her situation.
Never mind that Cesare lived in hiding and hardship, that he never arrived in Italy. What spared him was the fact that Frustaci was Catholic, and Cesare was baptized and raised Catholic, although he was in fact Jewish. He survived by living with a family in the countryside.
She is caught within the viscous and evil web of the Holocaust, and undergoes the deepest of adverse situations, confinements and struggles. She is informed her son is not in Italy, and tries to gain travel documents in order to find him. She does everything in her power, and more, in order to find, him. Walking miles and miles, asking everywhere, moving from city to city frantically searching. She eventually finds him, and is reunited. Not without repercussions after being separated for so long.
Margit’s situation is both death-defying and defining on many levels. Germaine W. Shames writes vividly, and with a deep and insightful perspective on the plight of Hungarian Jews. Margit Wolf’s experiences are inspiring, and exhibit a strength of spirit that is unending. Her will to survive and give up everything in order to find her son, Cesare, is a tribute to her stamina and heroism.
I recommend You, Fascinating You, to everyone.
I personally own and have read this book.
May 7, 2012 – 15 Iyyar, 5772