An Unsuitable Suitor

An Unsuitable Suitor is a novel about music, modernity, forbidden love and family secrets. It is scheduled for publication sometime in 2013.

AN UNSUITABLE SUITOR is based on a true story, the story of my violin teacher who went to Berlin in the 1920s to study with Carl Flesch.

It is 1921, just after the First World War of 1914-1918 and right at the beginning of the 1920s, when the Western World was on the cusp of modernism. The setting is Georgetown, Washington DC. The talented Mr. Rossi speaks four languages, plays piano and wishes to become a career diplomat after his harrowing experiences on the Italian Front during the Great War. When he is accepted at Georgetown University’s School for Foreign Service, it seems like a gift from heaven, because his long-lost family live in Georgetown.

But Rossi’a attempts to connect with his family do not go smoothly. He first encounters Angelina, who lives a life that requires her to fib. Put off by her choice of profession, Rossi is about to flee when her daughters appear. His eyes lock onto those of 17-year-old Grace, an exquisite violinist, and he falls in love. Angelina is not happy and her attitude sparks many rows. She, along with other family members do not know his real identity. They wonder about Rossi. Who is he? He claims to have been born in the U.S., but what about that wonderful Italian accent? Angelina, who is of Italian descent, is convinced he’s lying and that he was actually born in Italy.

A family crisis causes the matriarch, Great-aunt Paulina, to send Grace to Berlin, Germany, along with her sister Violet, and other family members. There, Violet works as an apprentice to a fashion designer from Paris, while Grace studies violin with a famous professor.

Grace is ambivalent about her good looks, because the attention she gets is embarrassing, unwanted and interferes with her violin. She dreams of having a career, but her family wants her to marry well. When German aristocrat Carl von Lietzow asks for her hand in marriage, they accept. But on the eve of her marriage to von Lietzow, Grace disappears.

At the end of the novel, Grace is forced to choose between her heart and her home.

Filled with the haunting sounds of the violin, this novel draws you into the world of a gifted violinist honing her artistry with the foremost violin pedagogue of the day, and the seediness and glamor of Berlin in the twenties. We follow Grace’s emotional journey from a shy girl who almost never speaks, to a passionate woman who fights for what she wants.


Images: Top left, the book cover for AN UNSUITABLE SUITOR designed by the author. The photograph shows a row of cottages in Georgetown, Washington DC, taken by the author. This represents Grace’s home. The music at the top is the violin part to the Brahms A major violin sonata. The image of the young man raising his hat was purchased from Dreamstime. Middle right, a photograph of Carl Flesch (1873-1944), a famous violin professor, who taught in Berlin and Philadelphia during the twenties. (My violin teacher took some lessons with him). Bottom Left, a signed photograph of Anita Berber (1899-1928), a notorious dancer, who danced her notorious “morphine” and “cocaine” dances before her fans at the Weisse Maus cabaret in Berlin during the twenties.

© Copyright Cynthia Sally Haggard 2012.  All Rights Reserved.

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