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SOME RECENT FICTION

A Prize Novel. No less an authority upon tho art of fiction than Mr. H. G. Wells declares Marius Lyle's story, "Unhappy, in Thy Baring" (.Melrose; per S. and W.' Mackay), to be possessed of "real" strength and a roinarkablosonse of charaoler." , Mr. Wells's fellow judges (for the story won a Ji2sfl prize in ■ a pubiislier'6 competition) were llr. W. L. Courtney and Air. A. E. W Mason. The story cortainly does possess considerable merit, in the. manner of its telling, but, personally,.' 1 have found it' very unpleasant rending. .The heroine, a young Irish lady, wealthy and a beauty, marries a man with whom 6ho has few tastes in common, for ho is a bookworm, an amateur pianist of genius, whiist Shelagh is devoted to hunting and outdoor sports generally. Soon comos along Shelagli's half-sister, .Hester, ugly, almost deformed, but with great intellectual gifts. Malicious, unprincipled, immoral, this female Caliban, despite her ill looks, sots out to win the affections: of her half-sister's husband, and succceds. Poor Shelagh, however, forgives, and Hester, after the death of her child, commits suioide.,; The husband is a pitifully weak, indeed quite contemptible creature, and how ever'a woman like . Sh'elajh Lynch could-havo married—and forgivon —such a man passes .my comprehension. Some of tho minor characters, however, are more pleasing creations, and the author's literary-stylo is so fresh and att't activo that his (or her) future works will be, looked^forward to . with pleasurable anticipation, ' ' By the Author of "The Dop Doctor." The twenty-five! short stories and sketches'.included' in "Richard Dehan's" "Earth to Earth" (William Hcinemann; per S. and.W. Mackay) provide somo excellent, light reading. In many of them tho principal character, is a bibulous, but clever and. good-hearted Bohemian, a Scots artist named MacWaugh. Tho MacWaiigh is a character .of whom Henri Murgor might well have been proud. Ho bubbles over with fun and good-natured; he plays tho good angel to a host of interesting waifs and wastrels; ho criticises latter-day art movements with rigour, and wit—sans whisky he would be one of the' most fascinating and lovable of men. Whenever the MacWaugh is' on the stage, "Richard Dehan's" little cbmedies afford • excellent entertainment. In others of the. stories, both high arid low lift is dcalth with. In not a few of them there is a strong miliary interest; In some, the dominant vein is one of humour, in others an equally strong dramatic side is struck. The concluding story, "The Hare," is a convincing, but very gruesomo tragedy, worked out with consummate literary skill, and as. efforts in social satire, the title story, "Earth to Earth," though so designedly realistic, in places, as to be positively repellant, and another sketch' "A Nursery Tale," in which human selfishness is exposed with ail irony as effective as even John Galsworthy could employ, are distinctly successful. "Richard Dehan's" worst fault is the flamboyance of her styh. She piles adjective upon adjective, anil 5h so generous in her ailusiveness that site ends by fairly cloying the reader. In' more than one of lier earlier and longer books she recalled the over-gor-geous colouring of Ouida. Here and -there, in this latest book, the style is too'/apt to suggest memories of Ouida—/ plus a dash-of Marie Corelli and the ■late George Augustus Sala. But, nevertheless, there is some capital reading in "Earth to Earth." ; A Romance of Lakeland. Air. Cecil Headlam, were ho only to prime down a certain tendency to the melodramatic,, might, in time, become, to the Lako' Country, what Thomas Hardy is to his • beloved Wessex, or Eden Philpotts to 'Devon. His "Red Screes" (Geo. Bell and Sons, per Whitcombe and Tombs), contains many delightful pictures of Cumberland and Westmoreland, and his descriptions of tho every d? t r life, sports, and curious ■ customs of' the dalesmen are decidedly racy. There is a wrestling match, for instance, in which "Girt John," champion of Hankerscat, Ts defeated, and a fox hunt, both of which provide excellent entertainment, and there is a fanner's wife; a rural female philosopher, who is almost as good as George Eliot's famous Mrs. Poyzer. But the story, as- a story, is unworthy of its picturesque setting; for its plot reeks of melodrama. The rascally' Bertram Leigh, who ruins a rustic beauty, itjla 'the equally rascally American millionaire, aro far too stagey creations to ]jo convincing. The comic element, too, introduced bibulous, retired army captSTh, is too often mere buffoonery, and tho .virtuous hero is a'terrible stick in his chnracter of jeune premier. In his next story, Mr. Headlam will, I hope, get a better plot, .Meanwhile, to all who know anything of Lakeland, "Red Screes" should afford no small pleasure. Captain Kettle Once Again, •* Mr. Cutcliffe Hyne is to Le congratulated upon his successful resurrection of our old friend "Captain Kettle." That perky and plucky ginger-bearded littio mariner, now, if you please,' tii- (jwen Kettle, C.8., could hardly bo expected to remain very loiig in the quiet enjoyment of his homo up in I ho Wuiiiro dales when "alarums and excursions" wero in'tho air. And so it is quite natural to find him, in "Captain Kettle on the War-Path" (Methuen anil Co.), setting to work, with all his old. ingenuit.y, and oven more than his old audacity, to "do hie little bit" for his country. He doos that "bit" in' his own way, aud often without any instructions from, or, 1 fear, tho approval of, the Admiralty. Ho outwits German spies, sends more than 'one enemy 'submarine to the bottom, and indulges in a perfect orgie of daring adventures, all of which have as their object the discomfiture of Fritz. .Mr. Hyno's powers of imagination, and the ingenuity with which he can contrivo the cscapc of his hero arid his comrades from situations of extremo peril show no sign of diminution. On the contrary, tho war appears to have provided Loth author and hero with a specially rich opportunity for tho display of those qualities by which Mr. Hyne and his famous character have endeared themselves to the reading public. By no means should you uiiss "Captain Kettle on tho War-Path." "The Death Rider." Italy, in tho days of Pope Julius 11, is the sceno of Miss Nina Toye's fullblooded and thrilling historical romance, "The Death Rider" (Cassell and Co., per S. and W. Mackay). Tho hero, or chief 'villain—for ho partakes of both— is a bloodthirsty, ruffianly, but keenwitted and daring captain of condottiere, who, a discarded illegitimate son of a great noble, raises himself, to a high position by shcor i'orcq of unscrupulous aiidaoity, criminal intrigue, and tigerish ferocity. Malviao is certainly a "firstclass lighting maji," but hq combines with his- undoubted . personal courage a positively 1 fioridish 't'aSto for cruelty; Ho .robs a "rival adventurer of his young wife, only, later on, to turn lier out on the world with meroiless inhumanity; ho tortures, and slays his .enemies, and before Nemesis overtakesTiim, fit tho hands of an' ill-treated mistress, has kidnapped ono cardinal, murdered another, and, for a time at least, flouted even the l'ope> himself. Miss Toyo lias skilfully turned to advantage inoro than one exciting liisr torical incident, and 'has invested her story with an air of conviction which atbnos for its rather too deliberate gruesomeness. A Spy Story. "JSonitt: Spy in Togoland," by Airs. Charlotte Cameron (T. Werner Laurie), is a well-planned, vigorously written story of tho present day, with West and Central Africa providing a novol and pictuTcsquo background. Tho heroino is a beautiful Australian lady, who goe3 to

Togoland believing she is hearing messages which will make for peace, but unconsciously playing tho part of a German spy. A young Englishman, Trovallion, gets possession of tho papers sho is carrying, and a long and oxcitemen'Wadon story ends with Zonia Winowcski lieijoming Lady Trevallion. Mrs. Cameron has a first-hand kliowledgo of African life, and indirectly her well-written and thrilling story throws many curious and .interesting side-lights upon, international ambitions and relations'. • ' ,"A Cathedral Singer." "A. .Cathedral Singer," by James Lane Allen (Macnullan), is a short story, possessing ft peculiarly pathetic interest. The heroino is a poor woman, who adopts ,the occupation of an artist's model in order to find the money for the education of her boy as a'musician. The sacrifice, for to a woman of such innate delicacy ami refinement of soul, the adoption of such a calling implies a quite heroic self-abnegation, is made, alas, in vain, for just as it is'proved that-the young chorister has a brilliant professional career beforo him, ho is killed in a' motor accident. The motif is slight, almost to attenuation, but the story de39rves to be- read for the- exquisite grace of its literary • style. The ' author of "The- Choir' Invisible" has 'long been recognised as a consummate artist in worsts, and the spirituality of his latost effort is as convincing as that of his earlier stories.. "A Cathedral Singer" is a. tiny but precious gem.

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Bibliographic details

SOME RECENT FICTION, Dominion, Volume 9, Issue 2836, 29 July 1916

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1,491

SOME RECENT FICTION Dominion, Volume 9, Issue 2836, 29 July 1916

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