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A Poor Wise Man

Mary Roberts Rinehart

Book Overview: 

Mary Roberts Rinehart offers a superb blend of romance and suspense amidst political tensions in this story set in early 20th Century America. The characters are compelling and representative of the various socioeconomic classes. The reader follows the complicated relationship of Lily Cardew (just returned from working with the Red Cross during the war) who finds herself unable to go back to the empty social life of the rich and William Wallace Cameron, an honest, fearless and patriotic pharmacy clerk during the turbulent times of an industrial town.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .All right. We'll talk about that, after dinner. What about this forty millions?"

Doyle looked at him quickly. Akers' speech about women had crystallized the vague plans which Lily's arrival had suddenly given rise to. He gave the young man a careful scrutiny, from his handsome head to his feet, and smiled. It had occurred to him that the Cardew family would loathe a man of Louis Akers' type with an entire and whole-hearted loathing.

"You might try to make her have a pleasant evening," he suggested dryly. "And, to do that, it might be as well to remember a number of things, one of which is that she is accustomed to the society of gentlemen."

"All right, old dear," said Akers, without resentment.

"She hates her grandfather like poison," Doyle went on. "She doesn't know it, but she does. A little education, and it is just possible—"

"Get Olga. I'm no kindergarten teacher."

"You haven't seen her in the li. . . Read More

Community Reviews

This is one of Mary Roberts Rinehart's romance/social dramas, set in the period right after the Armistice of 1918 and following the lives of several representatives of different socioeconomic classes in a thinly disguised Pennsylvanian city that became well known for its steel mill industry.

Young...more

Equal parts, Romance, Political Commentary and Social Commentary.

I down loaded this book because I had read another (modern day) book that made reference to Mary Rinehart's Mystery writing. This book is not a Mystery novel. As I titled this review, this novel is a Romance with some impressive pol...more

I very much admire the main character, Willie: he was kind, generous, encouraging, sacrificial, and a quiet leader. I liked the female lead at first, with her work for the Red Cross in WWI, and her desire to break out from under her harsh and wealthy grandfather’s tyrannical rule, but she made s...more

Really more like a 3.5 rating but I gave it a 4 star because I wish more people were reading Mary Roberts Rinehart.

I’m endeavoring to read her complete collection and so far all the different novels I have read have been unique. This one proves that there is nothing new under the sun and the poli...more

I'm not sure how much of a "thriller" this is, but it's definitely political. This novel is set in 1919 USA, just after the end of WWI and following on the heels of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. As I find so frequently represented in literature, the U.S. in actuality has come full circle po...more

Allowing for the time this was written, it was a very forward book, especially for a woman writer. While most of us would find something to disagree with, the roles of women, views of politics or religion, remembering this is from a different time where the author didn't have the decades in betwe...more

The discontent and manipulative characters remind me of events today. It was interestingly developed with some good insights.

For the first few chapters, A Poor Wise Man seems to be shaping up as a star-crossed romance between the daughter of wealthy industrialists and a middle-class drugstore clerk. It turns out to be an alternate-history imagining of what a Bolshevik revolution in a post-WWI America would look like.

We...more

I love reading Mary Roberts Rinehart, have since a teen. Never read this one and after starting this, I didn't think I was going to like it. Am so glad I finished!

"You know," he continued, "there's mostly a girl some place. All this talk about the nation, now ... the nation's too big for us to understand. But what is the nation but a bunch of homes?"

Lily Cardew is the granddaughter of a reactionary steel baron who has her eyes opened to the injustices of h...more

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