K by Rinehart scrimps on happily ever after

Mary Roberts Rinehart’s  K  blends romance and mystery so satisfactorily that the unlikely plot coincidences aren’t noticeable until after the novel is back on its shelf.


K by Mary Roberts Rinehart

1915 bestseller #5. Project Gutenberg EBook #9931. My grade B.


When their circumstances fall below genteel poverty level, the Page women take in borders.

Newlyweds Christine and Palmer Howe move into what had been the Page’s parlor and back sitting room.

Mr. K. LeMoyne puts his suitcase in what had been daughter Sidney’s bedroom.

Sidney is in training as a nurse, which will eventually bring in a good, steady income.

She finds surgeon Max Wilson very attractive.

Joe Drummond, who loves Sidney, is frantic. He knows the surgeon’s reputation with women and fears the worst if Dr. Max takes an interest in her.

K settles comfortably into the neighborhood, falls silently in love with Sidney, and becomes the man everyone goes to with their troubles.

Who is K?

How did he come by his wealth of knowledge?

Why does nurse Carlotta Harrison fear K so much she risks offending Dr. Max to avoid him?

Rinehart produces answers, lets all the characters learn from their experiences, and pulls everything together so that everyone lives less unhappily ever after.

For boarding-house operators, less unhappily is as good as it gets.

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© 2015 Linda Gorton Aragoni

Judgment House Destroyed by Stilted Dialog

The Judgment House is a complex novel about the marriage of a beautiful woman thwarted in love who settles for power.

Jasmine Grenfel loves the poor but ambitious diplomat Ian Stafford, but marries the unpolished Rudyard Byng and the three million pounds he’s made in South Africa.

Jasmine’s intelligence and social skills make their English home a center of political and financial power. Unfortunately, Jasmine is too self-centered to hear when her husband tells her he finds their London life meaningless.

Meanwhile, Byng’s financial and political interests are threatened by a traitor who is passing information to Paul Krueger, Byng’s and England’s arch enemy in South Africa. Byng refuses to think his native servant could be the traitor.

The second Boer War erupts as their Byng’s marriage teeters on the brink of collapse. Byng and Ian go off to fight for British interests in South Africa.

Jasmine takes advantage of the war to discretely leave her husband under the guise of running a hospital ship for the wounded soldiers.

In The Judgment House, Sir Gilbert Parker wrote a female lead as complex as Fleur Forsyte, a male lead as exciting as Rhett Butler, and a superb supporting cast, yet not one of the characters comes to life.

Gilbert pulls all the threads together with a too-neat, too romantic ending for a story that begs for mature realism. Sadly, Gilbert just doesn’t have the dialog-writing skill to make The Judgment House story real.

The Judgment House
By Gilbert Parker
1913 bestseller #4
Project Gutenberg EBook #3746
39 chapters

© 2013 Linda Gorton Aragoni