FIRST LOVE is the embodiment of a dream which I had two years ago.
It is a memoir of a first real love that I had in 1956. So vividly did
the details return to me that it felt as though I were in a time
machine. I had met Jorge while on a trip to Mexico, where I had gone to
escape and recover from a painful, failed marriage. Jorge was my tour
guide and we fell in love. A forever love.
Barrett, has always written stories
since she learned to write at the age offour.
Short stories were her favorite genre after
falling in love with O. Henry (pen name for
William Sydney Porter) and his classic short
Christmas tale of sacrifice and love, The Gift
of the Maji. Poetry and children's stories were
also at the top of her list but as a child of
the Great Depression, she refused to write about
conflicts, preferring fantasies with "happily
ever after" endings. Ironically, conflict is
what makes a story worth reading and why, First
Love, her memoir of sacrifice and love, may
become an all-time favorite.
Subsequent to a forty-two year career in both
the public and private sectors, Barrett, a
Brooklyn transplant of Italian ancestry, moved
from Canada to Ft. Myers, Florida, after her
second husband's death in 1993, where she
resides today. She was encouraged to write a
story on reinventing her life, which was
published in an anthology of stories called
Beyond Coping. A Valentine love letter she wrote
on a whim won a prize and was published in her
local newspaper. She began writing articles for
a political newsletter soon after, eventually
becoming its co-editor.
Barrett attended the New York Institute of
Finance and graduated from the American
Institute of Banking, The Institute of
Children's Literature and York University in
Toronto, where she earned a B.A. in
Humanities-Religious Studies and Sociology, at
the age of sixty-one.
This review is from:First
Love: Just Once in a Lifetime: A Memoir (Paperback)
Just because you're married doesn't mean
you've known love. "First Love: Just Once in a Lifetime"
is a memoir of truly finding love from Violeta Barrett,
who recounts being spurned by her then husband and
fleeing to Mexico, and finding what she dubbed as true
love. Even though it failed to last a lifetime, it
lasted for four wonderful years, and Barrett hares her
story well. "First Love" is a true story romance, highly
5.0 out of 5 starsA
true story romance, highly recommended, May 7,
WI USA) -
Books-and-Authors.net: Where did you grow up and
was reading and writing a part of your life? Who were your earliest
influences and why?
Violet Niggl: I was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. Until my mid thirties I
lived there up to the time I married a Canadian and moved to Canada
where I lived for 37 years. Reading and writing were always part of
my life from the time I learned to read at the age of four. My
mother, an Italian immigrant, who did not speak English, taught me
to read phonetically. I was influenced by many authors because I was
an avid reader but my earliest recollection of being influenced to
want to become a writer was O. Henry's classic short Christmas
story, The Gift of the Maji, a tale of sacrifice and love. Betty
Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn influenced me because I could
relate to it. Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the
Portuguese and Emily Bronte's, Wurthering Heights, were strong
influences because they personified two of the finest works of love
in poetry and story form.
Books-and-Authors.net: Discuss your new book FIRST LOVE - Just Once
in a Lifetime: A Memoir
Violet Niggl: FIRST LOVE is the embodiment of a dream which I had
two years ago. It is a memoir of a first real love that I had in
1956. So vividly did the details return to me that it felt as though
I were in a time machine. I had met Jorge while on a trip to Mexico,
where I had gone to escape and recover from a painful, failed
marriage. Jorge was my tour guide and we fell in love. A forever
love. When our tour ended and I returned to N.Y., we wrote to each
other. I saved all his letters...76 of them and it was through those
letters that we kept our love alive. Friends asked why I would have
kept the letters They were too beautiful to destroy, and ultimately,
as life has shown us many times, there was a reason for keeping
them, for without them I could not have written my book.
FIRST LOVE is a compelling story, a nostalgic and emotional journey
where principles, love and obligations collide and force unexpected
decisions. Energized by the Mexican culture and Jorge's charm, I was
soon caught up in the joy of being loved. But before long, I had to
return to my obligations, leaving Jorge behind. For the next few
years, we shared a forbidden passion--until the forces of morality
Nearly fifty years ago, Jorge and I fell in love, changing our lives
forever. Our heartfelt story, relived through a dream, proved to me
that "true love never dies." It is not affected by time. It is
ageless. It is eternal.
Books-and-Authors.net: FIRST LOVE - Just Once in a Lifetime: A
Memoir, is your story - did you leave anything out?
Violet Niggl: No. I told the story exactly as I remembered it.
Jorge's letters, which I still have of course, helped to refresh my
memory. Without the letters, I could not have written this book.
Books-and-Authors.net: Tell us a little about Jorge. When you first
met him until his death?
Violet Niggl: As I said earlier, I had gone to Mexico to escape from
a failed marriage. I also needed a rest from a stressful position I
held in a Wall Street investment firm. When I arrived in Mexico
City, the first person to greet me was Jorge. He introduced himself
as my tour guide.
Jorge was a handsome Mexican of average height, well-built, with
dark hair and dark eyes, clean shaven except for a well-trimmed
mustache. What I remember most at that first meeting was his deep,
masculine voice. He was a very attentive guide, very interesting and
knowledgeable. It was obvious he loved his country and took pride in
showing it's beauty and telling it's history and traditions. From
his letters I learned that he had fallen in love with me almost at
first sight but it wasn't until we were finally alone together that
I realized his gentle manner, his tenderness, his loving nature,
when I too fell in love with him. His one fault, was his jealousy
which he himself describes in his letters. He was a passionate man
who needed love and whose beautiful love letters thrill me to this
day. I do not know if he is still alive. When he came to me in the
dream that inspired my story, I felt it was a passing, but my
friends would not hear of it. They wanted a Hollywood ending and so
I began a search for him which until now has not brought forth a
single trace of him. My search still goes on.
Books-and-Authors.net: What motivated you to write FIRST LOVE - Just
Once in a Lifetime: A Memoir? Did you at anytime feel you were
publicly opening up so much with all of the letters between you and
Violet Niggl: I was motivated by the dream I mentioned earlier. It
forced me to get out of bed and search for his letters which I had
saved all these years. Yet I had seldom, if ever, thought of him in
all those years. I had married and pulled down a curtain to the
past. When I found the letters, I read them throughout the night. By
morning, my pillow was wet with tears. I could not remember that I
had been loved like a princess in a fairytale. But it jogged my
memory and the one thing that stood out was his last letter where he
said he would love me forever. I couldn't help feeling that he had
kept that promise when he returned to me that night. I also felt
that he was telling me to write our story for when I got up the next
morning I went to my computer and the words literally flew off the
At first, my only intention was to write our story and have two
copies made of it, one for him, if he was still alive and I could
find him, and the other for me. I wanted to send it to him, not give
it to him, because I didn't want to spoil his memories of the pretty
young woman with whom he had fallen in love. So when I completed the
narrative, I sent it to an editor for proofing. When the editor read
it and told me it was the best story he'd read all year and that I
should publish it, I was astonished. This was never my intention. I
had always been a very private person. Adding the love scenes was
the hardest thing I ever had to write. But after considerable
thought, I decided that at this stage of my life I could do it. It
was too beautiful a love story, and besides I had no control over
the decision. That little voice inside told me the time had come to
tell it. I sent it to a publisher. He told me it needed to be
enlarged to a book size which I knew I could do by adding the love
letters. And the rest is history.
Books-and-Authors.net: What should readers learn from reading FIRST
LOVE - Just Once in a Lifetime: A Memoir ?
Violet Niggl: I hope that readers will see it as the love story it
is and learn that the greatest gift one can ever give or receive is
to love and be loved. All else in life are "things."
Books-and-Authors.net: What are readers saying about FIRST LOVE -
Just Once in a Lifetime: A Memoir ?
Violet Niggl: As a whole, most readers love it. I have received some
beautiful comments on Amazon.com about my book. Those who see it as
the love story it is, have told me their love stories. Others wish
that they had experienced a love like mine. And still others have
said it has changed them for the better by reawakening their
feelings and their attitudes towards love. And many express regrets
that the art of writing love letters appears to be a thing of the
Books-and-Authors.net: What do you hope to achieve with FIRST LOVE -
Just Once in a Lifetime: A Memoir ?
Violet Niggl: Of course I would love for it to become an all time
favorite and a best seller. My dream is that it is made into a
movie. But aside from that, I would love to see a change in our
world. If there is anything we need now more than ever it is to
learn again the meaning of love.
I also hope to achieve a purpose to my life by making people aware
of the importance of love. It doesn't matter if someone has had a
love that failed. Life is full of ups and downs. Forget the past.
Begin again and keep your heart open to love because it's the only
real thing that matters. And when you find it, you will know and you
Books-and-Authors.net: What was the last book you read?
Violet Niggl: The Book Lover by Maryann McFadden
Books-and-Authors.net: What's next?
Violet Niggl: For the time being, I am concentrating on promoting
FIRST LOVE which has recently been translated into Spanish. The
title in Spanish is PRIMER AMOR Solamente Una Vez en la Vida: Una
Memoria. I am also in the process of doing an audio book and am
waiting for the results of a Treatment done by my publishers, which
for anyone who doesn't know the jargon means, a precursor to a
script. So at the moment, my cup runneth over.