Fast moving, engrossing pulp thriller set in British high society. The mystery will keep you guessing. A nearly penniless young gentleman finds himself drawn into international intrigue amid unhappy revelations about his parents. Some of the characters are rather broadly drawn, but it's a very enjoyable read.
One of my favorite ways of finding good books from the 19th and early 20th centuries is through mentions in other books. A character in Rose Macaulay's disappointing novel "The Furnace" reads this collection of sea stories as a distraction from worries. There was no description of the book, so I decided to check it out. Nautical yarns aren't my thing as a rule, but these are lively, wry and mostly pretty funny. You might not want to read them all at once, but taken in small doses, they are indeed cheering.
A barrister falls in love with the often neglected ward of a celebrity pianist -- a rock star of her era -- and she with him; they marry, but when he doesn't fall in among the worshippers of the volatile star, the famous woman takes him in dislike and comes between the couple, exacerbating the inevitable conflicts between a young woman reared among artists and Bohemians around Europe and a man out of the staid English upper classes. The writing is well done and the characterizations good, but not enough happens to make it really interesting.
Careless and carefree, the son and daughter of English parents live a happy, impoverished life in Naples until the arrival of a British family brings them an awareness of class difference and Victorian sensibilities. What must have seemed very clear and tragic to contemporaries of Macauley, appears overly subtle and unwonted to modern American eyes, so the novel, while full of well-executed description and fine characterization, doesn't go anywhere. The siblings are left a little sadder and wiser, but still together; the interfering family not much affected, and the reader let down.