Natalie Jacobs was 35 when she died, suddenly, in January 2008.
She left behind a novel. And her parents, Stan and Judith Jacobs of Ann Arbor, have published it, in ebook form, as a memorial to her.
“When Your Song Breaks the Silence” is an elegantly imagined life of Austrian composer Franz Schubert, distinguished by an articulate sensitivity and meticulous research. The completed novel’s existence was a surprise to her parents – its subject was not.
When her daughter was 11 years old, Judith Jacobs writes on the website she created for the book, “she wrote a story about the composer as a young child trying myopically – Natalie was also very near-sighted – to interact with his family and surroundings.” A graduate of Community High School, Natalie majored in English literature at the University of Michigan and was still working with the Schubert theme in the mid-1990s; when Stan and Judith traveled to Vienna in 1995 they made a point to visit the house where he died (in 1828, at age 31).
“A lilac bush was in full bloom in front of the building,” Jacobs says. They took a photograph.