A !Mader Makes a Man. By William Walsh. (Longmans, S. 6d.) Blow for Buffoons. By W. J. Turner. (Dent, 7s. 6d,) There Goes the Queen. By G. H. Ellis. (CussA, 8s. 6d, ) The Vortex. By Jose Eustacio Rk era. (Putnam. 7s. 6d.)
Green Wound. By Valentine North. (Jarrolds, 7s. ) Frost at Morning. By Beatrice Kean Seymour (Heinemann. 7s. 611.) Clair:user and Curiouser. By J. C. Snaith. (Hutchinson. 7s. 61.) Reviewed by FRANCIS BURDETT In A Murder Makes a Man Dr. Walsh has written what, in these days, must be considered an unusual novel. He tells the story. rather a horrible story. of a woman's treachery and deceit that brings ruin and disaster upon the man she loves, so far as she is capable of loving. The man had been devoted to her and remains so, fundamentally, in spite of everything. But the shock of her cold-blooded egoism, her deliberate treachery, leaves him dazed and bewildered until the long process of education and development that suffering ultimately works in him is consummated.
The hook, unlike so many books. subordinates the dreadful sordid events to the larger issues of life. It is American in its situation, as in its origin: inescapably we arc impressed with much in that country that .seems to us crude and immature, with the corruption in public life that seems to be taken for granted. But the philosophy behind the story is a Catholic philosophy and we rejoice to see that the human frailty, and worse. which go to the making of the story become in the story, as in life. vehicles for something greater than themselves.
Perhaps some will wish that the opening scenes could have been less painful and others that the development of the hero from a nominal Catholicism through loss of faith back to a real apprehension of the supernatural and deeper understanding of God had been less explicitly detailed. But it is a positive, not a negative, book: it does more than merely tickle the imagination, and some of the finely drawn characters will remain as happy memories with the reader.
Two things at least are fairly clear about Mr. W. J. Turner's, the poet. new hook. Blow for Balloons. The first is that the publisher's description of " first novel " is a courtesy one for want of a ;setter, and the second that it was written fOF the author's own delight.
It includes a great many things, including at least two delightful stories. One at:scribes how Henry Airbubble, representative in China of Messrs. Blow ad Blow, makers of balloons, after his first adventurous flight in that strange land. awoke in a palace that was built after the plan of the constellation named Cynosure or Ursa Major. It is a magical building and magical things happen, including the princess and the musical gold-fish. The story is almost as beautiful as what it describes.
The second one tells of his adventures on an island in the Pacific whose noble savages respected his life because the signet ring he was wearing had some resemblance to a magical flower they held in reverence. This, too, is a story that can be read more than once.
But these things are mere incidents in a book that contains much wisdom, some searching criticism of modern idols and some delightful fantasy. For instance. we read: ." To wish that the world were constructed in such a way as to avoid such injustice (the exploitation of the black by the white) is aa childish as to wish that rein would not wet, the sun burn or the snows freeze." He has no patience with modern intellectual utopias.
There is, of course. some folly and an occasional crudity; it has been and will be iiticisee for its extreme looseness of form i‘nd many apparent irrelevances. But read lightheartedly a and with attention (it requires and deserves attention) it affords unusual and stimulating pleasure.
The " Queen " in There Goes the Queen was the pleasure steamer that plied up and down the Thames and passed daily through the lock of Tidewick. The story deals with a large family. One section of which. after the break-up of the house in Belgravia, went to live in the small town Tidewick.
It is a lengthy leisurely book. James Crome. one of six brothers, was the solicitor who bought a house there and brought up, or at least allowed to grow up, a family in his new home, within sound of the weir that he came to love so much. The grandmother, the five uncles, the four children and more especially one of them. Brock, are vividly drawn and we follow their fortunes from, roughly, Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee till after the war.
There is humour and wit and pleasant dialogue; there is pathos and the horror of war. Once again it is all excellently done, as it has been excellently done before. We seem to know it all almost too well, and there is too much detail, but it would be churlish to deny praise to such a well-written and intelligent book. It is odd. though, to read of a Carthusian ill sandals and brown habit.
The Vortex is a translation (we imagine an American translation) from the Spanish. It is jerky and inconsecutive, sometimes difficult to follow, and we can never forget that it is a translation, but in spite of all this it gives a vivid picture of South American jungle and the horrors of the rubber trade.
Arturo ('ova, a wild and reckless young man, flies from the wrath of her parents with a young girl from Bagota. After a think, fails as a novel. The characters beget doubt rather than belief. specially Arturo, almost insane in his wildness and irresponsibility. What may he plausible and possible in the original Spanish ceases to be so in the translation.
We read towards the end of Green Wound that Parnell flung his arms round Katherine O'Shea (it was after the divorce. so she was then his legal wife) and said: "The storms and thunderings will never hurt us now, my wife, for there is nothing in the wide world that can be greater than our love: there is nothing in all the world bat you and I." That is the theme of the book. It tells in an intimate and personal way the story of Parnell's love for Katherine O'Shea and of her love for him. There is no criticism; no hint given that divorce was regarded differently in those days to what it is today, especially for those in public: positions. Politics are touched on of necessity, but only enough to give point to the tragic love story. It is well written, but how much better it would have been if a more realistic and critical attitude had been adopted.
In Iron t at Morning, Mrs. Kean Seymour describes the last few months in thc life of a young girl of eighteen. 11 was a sad life, for the mother was a heartless, worldly, woman, "conventional," since she had a cold temperament in her mural outlook hut completely callous and selfish tn her treatment of men. She neglected her daughter; put her to an intolerable strain of loneliness and unhappiness. Bitterness and misery exposed the daughter to every temptation and danger. and they were many. that came her way. There is no need here to detail all the unhappiness, sexual and otherwise, that is lengthily described. The customary modern outlook is adopted so that much is made of sex and little or nothing of those higher principles that form the basis of a ChrisLion civilisation.
In Cm-lower and Curiouser Lord Cobbleigh disappears from a golf-links, whilsi a wind was blowing in from the sea and was never seen again. Scotland Yard, of course, took its modest part in the search but the subtler and better game was played by an Austrian firm of private detectives
with a London office. Their chief, an extraordinary man, was world-famous for his success, not so much for bringing criminals to justice, as for recoverina, stolen goods. 1 here is interest and excitement: but also too much English as the foreigner is thought to speak it. and even when the author writes for himself we tied sentences like the following: "His answer was the kiss connubial."