"Because surely he wanted to marry her, if only for her money. And she had sent him away without that. And now she was free. No man would have her for a wife, and she needed no man for a husband."

Musically gifted Elisabeth von Schwabacher wants nothing more than to play the piano and perform for the rest of her life. However, when she returns home to Berlin from studying piano in Vienna, she finds that her mother expects her to get married. Even though her mother is open to her marrying outside of their faith, her father insists that any future husband for his daughter must be Jewish. As a young lady with average looks and a full figure, her mother puts her on a very tight diet to slim her figure before finding a suitable match. With only two suitors who happen to be Christian men, Elisabeth feels that she is only sought after for her wealth and not her own qualities. Wanting to be rid of all talk of marriage, she has an affair. Its repercussions narrow the path of the life she hoped to live.

In this historical novel, Mack's expertly written style resembles Victorian-era literary examples enough that one might think it was written in the nineteenth century. What sets Mack's book apart from the rest is its retrospective angle on society at the time, which focuses both on how constrained women were to societal expectations and how Jews were looked down upon before Hitler's reign. Though it can be difficult to keep track of all the characters and their titles initially, the letters that populate the pages throughout the novel feel genuine. As a result, these help solidify the characters. The story's pacing can slow significantly at times, but the overall plot and cast are still engaging. Anyone who loves a good classic from the Victorian era is bound to enjoy reading this modern book with a similar feel.

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