Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Master's Violin by Myrtle Reed

315 pages
1904, reprinted 1909
G. P. Putnam's Sons --
The Knickerbocker Press

The Master's Violin is the seventh novel by Myrtle Reed, a best selling author of the early 20th century and the fourth that I have read. Up until this point nearly all of Ms. Reed's books that I have read I have picked up with some foreknowledge as to what the story entails, but not so with The Master's Violin. In fact, the very reason that I happened to read it had to do with the simple fact it was one of four books by Reed available through my library's Inter Library Loan program that I had not yet read.

The Master's Violin is set in the early 1900s and somewhere in a German settled town within the state of Pennsylvania. (Note: German immigrants play heavily into this story, including a character or two who speak with heavy accents, which at times make reading their dialogue a bit of a challenge.)

The plot:
After twenty years a widow returns to her childhood home and although she is haunted by her past, she is determined to stay so her grown son can further his musical career at the hands of a local master violinist. What ensues is the love stories of three couples who find each other amidst sadness and loss, bitter memories, forgivenss, love, and new found hope.

My Thoughts:
The Master's Violin is a sweet, yet sad, and at times even a little sappy story. Compared side by side with some of Reed's other novels I'd have to say The Master's Violin isn't quite as memorable. It lacks the same level of wit and spice to the dialogue, plot, and characters that other of her books have contained. Still, I found it to be an enjoyable read and probably best defined as an Edwardian period romance with a pretty ending.

Despite the drawbacks to this book (the occasional accented dialogue, the lacking in wit and spice, the silliness of one female, the snobbishness of another...) I still found the story entertaining, pleasing in it's closure and plenty of passages to jot down in my book of books. Here is one such passage:

"Perhaps if we lived rightly, if our faith were stronger, death would not rend our hearts as it does.'

'Life,' replied Lynn 'is the pitch of the orchestra, and we are the instruments.' Doctor Brinkerhoff nodded. 'Very true. The discord and the broken string of the individual instrument do not affect the work, except as false notes, but I think that God, knowing all things, must discern the symphony, glorious with meaning, through the discordant fragments that we play.'" (Chapter 14, page 183)

All in all, I liked The Master's Violin, but not as much as the other books I've read by Myrtle Reed. I feel rather sorry that I can't give a standing ovation for this novel. I have really enjoyed all of Ms. Reed's books that I have read thus far, but then each one in a different way. I loved Lavender And Old Lace, but in comparison The Master's Violin was only mediocre. Thankfully for someone curious to read this story, but not willing to spend a lot of money there are acceptable copies to be found on Amazon for as little as $0.99. Unfortunately I have not found a decent electronic version of this book. The one website I did find that contained the entire book had font errors and missing words, which made reading nearly impossible.

But don't let my so-so feelings about this novel keep you from reading Myrtle Reed. She wrote some beautiful novels in her time and they are well worth your time.

Myrtle Reed Related Posts:

Lavender And Old Lace by Myrtle Reed (reviewed)
A Spinner In The Sun by Myrtle Reed (reviewed)
A Weaver of Dreams by Myrtle Reed (reviewed)


hopeinbrazil said...

You've got me on the lookout for Myrtle Reed books. Sadly my interlibrary loan system (of 13 libraries) doesn't have any, but I'm pursuing other sources.

Sherry said...

Thanks for participating in the Saturday Review at Semicolon.

If you're a poetry lover, I'd like to invite you (and your readers) to participate in the poetry survey that I'm doing. I'm looking for your ten favorite classic poems. Read more about it here.