By Valentin Iremonger
The Devil You Know, by W. J.
White (Cape, 16s.).
HELEN FURNIVAL left her good-natured, horseloving husband and her child for the love of a brilliant history don, Myles Keating, who did not leave his wife for Helen: why for her any more than for any of the others both before and after Helen ?
Myles's beautiful wife had her affairs, too. though seemingly they were less destructive and more discreetly conducted. Returning to Dublin after a year at Oxford, the weary round of affairs starts again for both of them with Myles, absent-mindedly almost, renewing his friendship with Helen and having the usual brief encounters with other women while his wife too. goes along her own enticing way.
IT is the kind of story that the early Evelyn Waugh or Anthony Powell would have been fully at home with; but Mr. White is somewhat more unhappy about it and can barely conceal his distaste for the whole tragic progress that culminates in Helen's suicide.
This is a pity: for Mr. White has the first requisite of the novelist in that he is a brilliant observer of people's behaviour and the environment in which it is set. He fails short, perhaps, on character: the male characters are somewhat shadowy though the women come alive presumably because of Mr. White's compassion for those caught in the cruel ambit of Myles's charm.