Hands Like These
Gather Truffles And Feed The Geese
The Good Pain. By Elizabeth Hollister Frost. (Martin Seeker, 6s.) The Malice of Men. By Warwick Dceping. (Cassell, 8s. 6d.) Jubilee Blues. By Rhys Davies. (Heinemann, 7s. 6d.) The Tales of Algernon Blackwood. (Martin Secker, 8s. 6d.) Reviewed by FRANCIS BURDETT
QT-CIRQ-LA-POPIE was, or is, a village ki perched high on a crag above the river Lot. The country in which it is situated is the country that produces delectable things, such as truffles and foic-gras.
Something delectable also pervades The Good Pain that manages, by the skilful interweaving of many characters in a series of short stories, to make the reader feel that he knows the precipitous little town and much that goes on there. The incident. or predominant character in each several story throws light upon the whole community; nothing is isolated as no single event could be hidden in so closely packed a community. We see them working, dancing, marrying, dying; we see the multiplying children and the lengths some would go to satisfy a maternal instinct strong, though thwarted. They are, to us, a strange people, primitive, passionate and, occasionally, terrible in their directness. There are two murders, but they are so simply done, occasioned by such cogent, if untutored reasons, that they seem almost pardonable. If it is indeed hands such as these that gather truffles and feed the geese perhaps that may be one of several reasons why the sophisticated yearn so eagerly for them.
Lancaster was a young man born with a grievance. He disliked his humble parentage, he disliked poverty, he was full of envy and hatred, and it is round him that The Malice of Men turns.
Mr. Deeping, competently, fluently, exploits many prejudices that once were fashionable. There is a wicked baronet and his ill-used wife, there are the Victorians represented as compounded of hypocrisies and shams, there is religion, a dope that worships "some unknown, monstrous creature called God." Lancaster himself is a callow but fundamentally honest
creature. However unpleasant he must have been in the flesh, he stands for all the virtues in this book. He becomes a builder and makes his money in "developing " the seaside place in which he lives. The wickedness of the baronet enables him, with a glowing heart, to build particularly. atrocious villas so as to spoil his view. His happiness overflows when the ill-used wife coyly says that she approves.
A shallow, rather silly story.
Cassie, in Jubilee Blues, is a bouncing, (Continued at foot of next column)