Harmony Wells, studying in Vienna to be a great violinist, suddenly realizes that her money is almost gone. She meets a young ambitious doctor who offers her chivalry and sympathy, and together with world-worn Dr. Anna and Jimmie, the waif, they share their love and slender means.
t all had been sordid. The butter had gone for opera tickets, and never was butter better spent. And there had been gala days--a fruitcake from Harmony's mother, a venison steak at Christmas, and once or twice on birthdays real American ice cream at a fabulous price and worth it. Harmony had bought a suit, too, a marvel of tailoring and cheapness, and a willow plume that would have cost treble its price in New York. Oh, yes, gala days, indeed, to offset the butter and the rainy winter and the faltering technic and the anxiety about money. For that they all had always, the old tragedy of the American music student abroad--the expensive lessons, the delays in getting to the Master himself, the contention against German greed or Austrian whim. And always back in one's mind the home people, to whom one dares not confess that after nine months of waiting, or a year, one has seen the Master once or not at all.
Or--and one of the Harmar girls had carried back this scar in her soul--to go back rejected, as one
Of all the Rineharts I've read this might be the most memorable. It's an idealistic romance with an absorbing side-plot that'll require multiple handkerchiefs for those whose emotions are easily touched. Characters are well-drawn, and in the final analysis almost all of them prove to be heroes to a greater or lesser degree.
It's sad as well, almost tragic, involving untimely death, and a sacrifice by the near-perfect heroine.
I'm not through with reading MRR, but at this point I think romance is her strongest talent. Her humorous works are droll at best, and the mysteries I've read, except for Jenny Brice, haven't been much.
An unhappy story, overall, and one of those novels that reveal fundamental changes in society since its time.
To save money, two American friends -- a struggling young doctor doing a residency in Vienna and a lovely, indigent violin student -- unconventionally set up housekeeping, together with an older woman for propriety and a sick young boy. But when their chaperone must leave, an evil-minded, scandal-making, "good" woman makes trouble. Meanwhile, another doctor, living more or less openly with an Austrian girl in a matter-of-fact arrangement, falls in love with an upright American woman.
The differing morals of today make it hard to get into the dread and panic of the characters or "the instinct of the young girl to preserve her good name at any cost." The novel also touches on the supposed impossibility of a woman both marrying and having a career.
The story questions some of these prevailing attitudes, but doesn't condemn them. It may have been daring for its time, yet I found myself getting very impatient with it. The ending, though conventional as romance novels go, brings little catharsis.
Rinehart is much better in her mysteries and lighter novels.