A distinguished author of historical fiction in which fantasy often plays a part (she received the 1969 Carnegie Medal for The Moon in the Cloud) spins a realistic romance set in Austria and Bayreuth in 1937, when the results of Hitler's threat were beginning to be a terrifying reality. When Nell and her school choir travel to Innsbruck for an international music competition, Nell falls headlong in love with a gifted local singer (Franz) whose father is Jewish. As Franz predicts, he is denied first place even though he is clearly the best competitor; defiantly, Nell sings the Mahler song he would have used in the final round. Nonetheless, despite her efforts to avoid him, she is courted by a powerful young man who is collaborating with the Nazis. He is also nephew to the grande dame patroness of the competition, who whisks Nell off to Bayreuth, where, to her horror, Hitler takes a fancy to her. Her fear of protesting provokes a quarrel with Franz; both are injured in a violent Nazi outbreak, and they do no communicate again until 28 years later. Though the story, with its framing device of a parallel romance involving Nell's niece, gets off to a leisurely start, the star-crossed lovers' romance advances swiftly. Austria on the verge of the Anschluss and Hitler's fascination even for those who recognized him as evil are drawn with telling detail; and though the poignant reunion depends on coincidence, it is believable. A satisfying, suspense-filled story, firmly based in its historical background and musical milieu.