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River Aria

Joan Schweighardt

It’s 1928 and Estela Euquério Hopper, an ambitious young woman from an impoverished area of Brazil, has landed a job at the Metropolitan Opera House, though only to work in the sewing room. Her good fortune is due in part to a unique and rigorous education provided to her (and a handful of other “river brats”) by a renowned educator and operatic vocal instructor from Portugal. The other part is due to the fact that her father is American. She hopes to make it from the Met sewing room to the Met stage, but there are three huge obstacles standing in her way: her father, her cousin (who has been kept in the dark regarding his own parentage), and the wild, anything goes, often violent temperament of New York City herself.



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“New York City and the fecund Amazon come alive in Schweighardt's rich tale of two young Brazilian immigrants arriving in late 1920's America to pursue their dreams.”

—Damian McNicholl, author of  The Moment of Truth and A Son Called Gabriel

“Schweighardt brings to life an exquisitely-detailed personal yet universal tale of the struggles of mixed-race immigrants to the United States, post-WWI. JoJo and Estela bear witness to prohibition, the beginnings of the Great Depression, and the near-destruction of Estela’s white father, a man who years before survived the most brutal of losses. At once devastating yet full of redemption, River Aria stands on its own, and is as much a telling of our times as it is a study of an earlier era in world history. Evocative, heartrending, and not to be missed.” 

—Paula Coomer, author of Jagged Edge of the Sky and 
Somebody Should Have Scolded the Girl

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