17 year old Paula Isenbert returned to her home from convent school in 1865. Her five younger brothers seemed noisier than ever and the home was crowded with the elderly , an uncle and an old family retainer, as well. Paula's father was judge/administrator in the small principality of Nassau, not yet absorbed into the German Empire. Devoutly Catholic and rigidly upright, the Isenberts are much duller than the author them to be. The relatives engage in the sort of wooden dialogue supposed to fill the reader in on family and national history. Details of Paula's introduction to housework under her mother's critical supervision make the reading as heavy as the feast day menus, which also burden the text. For long stretches, Paula disappears from the story as the author follows the bland adventures of Adolf, the middle boy among her brothers. When she returns, her encounters with romance are almost pulseless. After the Prussians marched into Nassau, Paula thought less of becoming a nun and more about the lieutenant billeted with them. The possibility of a marriage to a Protestant Prussian would have knocked the family circle into pie slices. This is mentioned rather than shown through characterization or conversation. Paula finds a beau more acceptable to her family and American readers will find a confusing, middle class sort of Zenda here.