The plots and characters are so cleverly written and thought out, that I can't help but fall in love every time I crack open the pages. There was a voice in my head screaming at me to finish the story of Harmony and her young doctor Peter Byrne. Every time I glance at the page, I felt Harmony's eyes boring into my brain, demanding that I pick her up and find out how everything ends. I had to know if Harmony and Peter would be able to work past all the obstacles thrown in their way. I had to know if Dr. Anna Gates would continue to live with them or be forced to go back to the U.S. to take care of her dying father. I don't think I ever understood the term gothic romance until I read this book.
There is one distinctly false step at the end (view spoiler)the boy's mother's reaction at the end seems...
On one end of the scale are the very proper Boyers who ironically rent the apartment of the couple on the opposite end of the scale: an American man, Wallace Stewart, living with a young Austrian woman, Marie, who is described in pejorative terms. (view spoiler)Stewart incurs no consequences for his living arrangements until he meets an American woman, Anita, with whom he would like to have a serious relationship. Peter does what he can for Marie, taking her back to Vienna and taking her into his home until she can go to America with a plan to start over again and become somebody respectable in society. The relationship of Peter and Harmony falls somewhere between the Boyers and the Stewart-Marie relationship, but it starts out and returns to the conservative side. This would satisfy the conventions, but Mrs. Boyer assumes that Peter and Harmony are living in sin when she visits and Anna isn't home, and she spreads the word among the other American ex-patriots that Harmony is not to be treated as a respectable woman. However, when Anna has to leave for good, and Mrs. Boyer visits again the very day this happens, Harmony is well aware that she is now outside the conventions for her society, and she understands that to preserve her good reputation, she has to leave and find somewhere else to live. However, it is Peter who pays part of those consequences when Mrs. Boyer carries her indignant impressions to the club and spreads the word to the replacement tenant as well as to a young man who fancies himself in love with Harmony. Finally all the obstacles are overcome, all the conventions satisfied, the gossips who helped convince Mrs. Boyer that Peter and Harmony were living outside the conventions have been forced to clarify and confess that there was nothing wrong after all, and all the subplots are tied up neatly.
I mean, Harmony and Peter end up both living in the same place, along with a doctor lady and an orphan child in Peter's care. This is not an abnormal living arrangement in Harmony's culture, but it is offensive in the culture of those who would be her references (and Peter understands this), and so she has a lot of trouble because of this, even though she and Peter dont seem to think they love each other much of the time (and even though the doctor is there with them). It gets to where Harmony feels that Peter proposes to her every time things go wrong, as if it will make everything better. Anyway, Harmony doesnt want to marry Peter since she wants to pursue her career *and* because she doesnt think she loves him (she thinks he just wants to protect her out of pity or something)and she wants him to pursue his career instead. However, through their character development they finally learn some things and decide to marry (at the very end is when they come to this conclusion).
Harmony Wells is a struggling American studying music all alone in pre-WWI Vienna, Peter Byrne a young doctor in similar circumstances. The cover promises a 'novel of romance and suspense', but I'm not sure it was much of either.
I will definitely be reading another Mary Roberts Rinehart, but this time I will make sure its of the right genre!
The cover promised "a novel of romance and intrigue," but the story was a little light on intrigue.
He proposes to Harmony twice, but each time is rejected because Harmony feels he is only doing so out of compassion, and because she thinks marriage would be the end of her career as a musician.
While many of her books were best-sellers, critics were most appreciative of her murder mysteries.