If you have a will to read Where There’s A Will, patience is the most needed virtue. Not because the book is boring, hardly so. But it is a long story, narrated well, and the author takes her time to build up the whole plot. This is not a quick read by any means but it is a good read.
The whole story is a flashback, and sometimes that creates a nice aura of suspense. Suspense is rampant throughout the story. When I read some of these older books I am amazed by how much science or medical science in general had already advanced, although the terminology may have been slightly different, and how many of the things still apply today. Some complaints get labeled as neuroses or nerves – we have read about that with Mrs. Bennet and also the inhabitants of Miss Marple’s village. And then there are some complaints which seem to have been rampant then, like the characters in a Victoria Holt novel where there is almost always an insane person who is locked away, or some girl who is paranoid. We don’t really see these terms bandied about so casually nowadays, or do we?
Why have I rambled on about neuroses and such? The whole story of Where There’s a Will is set in a sanatorium somewhere in the American MidWest. This place is known for its spring water and its restorative properties. A whole bunch of rich folks have been coming there for several decades to get the cure, just like people went to get the waters in Bath. This spa has hot baths, massages and other fantastic treatments reminiscent of Baden Baden, a place in the German Black Forest I have only heard of. Minnie is a faithful young retainer who is a second generation water girl. She knows all the intricacies around drawing the perfect glass of spring water and she takes her duties pretty seriously.
The place is plunged in chaos when the doctor and owner dies suddenly leaving behind a peculiar will. Desperation gives rise to an elaborate ruse in which more and more people get involved. While the heir apparent is hidden away in a freezing cottage with his child bride, an actor takes his place and starts doing a serious job. Soon everyone revolts and Minnie can smell disaster.
There is a wide array of characters that are representative of the typical composition of American society I suppose. A proud heiress engaged to a German prince, old ladies, spinsters, gouty old gentlemen, a scarlet woman, starving artists and faithful staff, not to mention mischief makers. This is one story you can really sink into and it won’t disappoint.
I loved The Man in Lower Ten by Ms. Reinhart and got hooked onto her books. Where There’s a Will is an absorbing story that needs to be read.
Also check out That Affair Next Door by Anna Katherine Green.