ELIZABETH OF THE GERMAN GARDEN. a biography by Leslie de Charms (Heinemann, 25s.).
" LTHOUGH Lady Russell died nearly 18 years ago, this, her biography, is very much welcomed by her wide circle of readers and her many friends and relations. The selected letters to and from her and the extracts from her journal are joined with great skill by a careful narration of the events in her life.
The photographs arc well chosen, especially the one with her dogs, which expresses her personality vividly -the much too big, gross, demanding pets, obviously groomed, cooked for, and exercised by other people. The writer of this biography has succeeded extremely well in this revival of a personality many of whose descendants, friends and enemies are still alive.
One of Lady Russell's letters was sent to a noted graphologist some years ago, and he remarked that it showed an interesting case of arrested development; she had matured. he maintained. only in one direction, that of her created world in her imagination. Her actual life and personal relationships were, he said, altogether at the mercy of a childish, stunted and insecure remainder of her.
THE style of " Elizabeth's"
writing was unique in her time, which made her first book an instant best-seller. She believed she alone properly understood the use of the semi-colon, and she was probably right.
Her projections of masculine egoism were so vivid that unknown ladies used to write to her claiming that she must have personal acquaintance with their husbands. She had a set line on Anglican clergymen, always caricaturing them in her novels, and this was coupled in her life by a distaste for the supernatural, the Catholic Church being a real bogey to her.
When I stayed at her chile near Montana, I can remember her compelling her unskilled. if aristocratic, house-party guests to nurse a young married guest through a threatened miscarriage, rather than allow a nun, the only available trained nurse, to cross her threshhold.
Chalet Soleil is now a convent guest house, and doubtless Lady Russell, in the next world, rejoices at the groundlessness of her fears. This biography, rightly a _Book Society Recommendation, has induced me to re-read every book I own by " Elizabeth in her German Garden". C.B.
After having served the Sacred Congregation dc Propaganda Fide as Archivist General for 35 years, Mgr. Joseph Monticone retired recently. His successor is Fr. Nicholas Kowalski, 0.M.1. The archives of Propaganda arc among the richest of the world. Documents on the missions of the Church in all parts of the world have been accumulating on its shelves for more than three centuries.