Every year during Memorial Day weekend, the Trader’s Market appears and sets up camp just down the road from where I live. So last Monday I decided to spend my holiday searching for old treasures, mainly books, in the hundreds of stands containing anything and everything, valuable and otherwise, you can imagine! I dearly love old books and my weakest point is first editions, well anyways I was looking for three books in particular they were: The Harvester, by Gene Stratton Porter; Laddie, also by Gene Stratton Porter and The Master’s Violin, by Myrtle Reed. I generally set out looking for a specific book, don’t find it and end settling for some other that just doesn’t compare, well first I found The Harvester, which I wanted the least but I was thrilled that I had found one of the books on my list! Second I stumbled upon Laddie, and I wanted this one more than The Harvester, so you can imagine my excitement! We (my mom and sisters and I) walked around for a few more hours without finding anything and just as we were about to leave I saw one more bookshelf of old and probably out of print books, I was already in debt to my companions and I didn’t have a cent to my name, at least not on me, but I decided to look anyway. The third shelf that I searched what do you think I found? The Master’s Violin in all it’s glory, wonderful condition, first edition and, one of the most beautiful things that I have ever heard, it was only one dollar! I started reading it on Tuesday morning and finished it on Wednesday afternoon and it was so good that I simply have to share about it!
The book opens on a raining night in the large old home, of a wealthy old woman and her young, adopted daughter. The old lady’s niece and grand-nephew have just arrived to live with her because her nephew, Lynn, is to take violin lessons from the Master who lives in this, the small old-fashioned town of East Lancaster. Lynn goes to the Master to ask him to make and artist of him, but by some misfortune he touches the Master’s precious Cremona, causing the Master to feel a certain seemingly uncalled for contempt for the boy. We follow the relationships of Lynn and his mother, Margaret, and the old lady and her adopted daughter, Iris, and of other characters of the village. We are shown true and tender pictures of pain and heartache, although it is closely veiled with mystery. The Master tells Lynn that he has technique but no feeling or passion, then we trail the people of East Lancaster through sorrow and trials. When Lynn falls in love with a piece of ‘human driftwood’ who doesn’t return his love, he goes to the Master longing for someone who knows his pain. Then through beautiful, heartrending language and imagery the master tells us how genius comes of pain, he then shares his own heart and the story of his Cremona. We find also of the tragedy of Margaret’s past and Iris’ present. In the end all is made right and all hearts find their balm in the beauty of ‘Mine Cremona’.
This book is truly one of the best that I have ever read, it was so beautiful that more than once I found myself in tears. It was nonsetdownable! While reading this book I fell in love with the characters and East Lancaster, I shared their pain and exulted in their healing. I do not know if this book is even in print but I would encourage you to search for it wherever you go and no matter what you must pay to get it, your difficulties will be richly and abundantly rewarded.
By Ia Stavig