“What I so appreciated and enjoyed in this book was the mix of expected and surprising in the story. I’ve read many pre-war historical novels and any number of gifted-heroine-exposed-to-the-world coming-of-age stories, but Haggard picked unique details that made this story new. The heroine at the heart of this novel is Grace, an Italian-American woman with a gift for the violin. Her mother, an Italian immigrant, made a life for Grace and her sister Violet by being a mistress and courtesan, a lifestyle choice Grace and Violet both appreciate and revile. A tall glass of cold, dark, and handsome shows up and plunges the family into turmoil with his obsessive interest in Grace and equally obsessive dislike for her mother.
“From this dramatic start, we follow Grace as she attempts to pursue her dream of becoming a concert violinist. Beholden to those with wealth, surrounded by those damaged by World War I, and impacted by family secrets she struggles to uncover, Grace tries to find her own happiness on her own terms. Berlin in 1922 provides a salacious backdrop for an orphaned teen to come into her own. Like I said earlier, this plot is outrageous but in a Sidney Sheldon/Joan Collins/Kathryn Harvey manner: just verging on the unbelievable but not tipping over. It’s absolutely perfect for when you want something fun, dramatic, and ohemgee-did-that-just-happen?-ish. And while it clocks in at 586 pages, the length is enough that it’s like reading a miniseries rather than a brick tome.”