The Lure of the Mask doesn’t last

The Lure of the Mask is a novel composed entirely of characters.

Readers must take them as Harold MacGrath drew them; their fascination never makes them believable people.

Lady in fancy evening dress lowers her mask and looks over her shoulder toward the reader.


The Lure of the Mask by Harold MacGrath
Illus. Harrison Fisher and Karl Anderson.
Bobbs-Merrill, 1908, 1908 bestseller #4
Project Gutenberg ebook #22158. My grade: B-.

Italian-born American John Hillard hears a woman singing in classical Italian at 1 a.m. in January. He’s so charmed that he places an ad in The Times asking her to contact him.

She responds. They correspond. The woman refuses to reveal any personal details.

Finally she agrees to meet.

Hillard is blindfolded, brought to a home that seems familiar.

The lady is masked.

Hillard knows no more about her afterward than before.

Unable to locate the woman with whom he is infatuated, Hillard agrees to take his friend Dan Merrihew to Italy, where both can recover from the loss of their loves—or find them again.

They are accompanied by Giovanni, Hillard’s servant, who hopes his 7-year absence will have lessened the interest of the police in arresting him so he can finish the murder he botched earlier.

MacGrath’s complicated story is well-plotted and remains unresolved until the last page.

The Lure will catch and hold you for an entire evening.

You’ll be released untouched at bedtime.

© 2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni

The Goose Girl: A fairy tale for grownups

I initially thought The Goose Girl was going to be a Graustark knock-off, but Harold MacGrath’s plot contains complex characters that George Barr McCutcheon can’t match.

The Goose Girl revolves around two girls of approximately the same age, Hildegarde and Gertrude.


The Goose Girl by Harold MacGrath

Andre Castaigne, illus. Bobbs-Merrill. 1909 bestseller #8. Project Gutenberg  eBook #14598. My grade: B.


Princess Hildegarde interviews the goose girl
Princess Hildegarde interviews Gertrude, the Goose Girl.

Abducted as a toddler, Princess Hildegarde is reunited with her father at age 16 after experiencing hardship and freedom.

Hildegarde wants to marry Arthur Carmichael of the American consulate, but she’s ordered to wed King Frederick of Jugendheit for reasons of state.

Youthful King Frederick has also been given much freedom.

He rejects Hildegarde in favor of Gertrude, a beautiful goose girl with socialist sympathies.

Although the Grand Duke hates the idea of Hildegarde marrying his enemy’s son, he’s ready to go to war with Jugendheit when Frederick refuses to wed her.

Such irrationality is all too human.

Anyone who ever read a fairy tale knows how the romance is going to end.

The interest is in who engineered Hildegarde’s abduction and why.

The denouement is dramatic because the culprit is so believably the last person anyone would suspect.

No one would mistake The Goose Girl for literature, but neither can anyone deny that MacGrath’s characters are a far cry from the stilted cardboard pieces of McCutcheon’s romances.

©2015 Linda Gorton Aragoni