The Mystery of the Forecastle.. By R. Y. Macpherson. Dunedin: 'New Zealand Tablet' Company. The authoress of the book under notice tells us in her preface that the work is a story of fact and fiction. From her opening remarks she leads her readers to infer that it is a chronicle of her own life, with some slight embellishments. Be this as it may, we havo no hesitation in asserting that the book is well worthy of perusal. Mrs Macpherson is not one of those writers who indulge in the selfish occupation of nursing a morbid sympathy with secondary or imaginary forma of suffering, and though from the hints thrown out by her we are led to understand that she has had her own share of the " ups and downs" of life, she does not for a moment assume the part of a literary mendicant soliciting sympathy for herßelf. The first paragraph in the opening chapter describes a certain town of Otago with such graphic fidelity that the reader can guess at a glanoethe place alluded to:— Waitaramoa is a pretty seaside town in tho Middle Island of Now Zealand, boasting a capital harbor, bread handsome streets, and very fine puolio building". A stranger would be struok by the greyness of the stone of which moßt of the houses are 'built, as well as by the handsomo pillars freely dispersed about the large edifices. He wculd soon learn thai the stono was quarried in the immc.dlate neighborhood of Waitaramoa; that the inhabitants of the little seaport town were ex- ! tremely proud of what they termed "the Grey Stone City," that their pride was Justifiable in that it would be diffloult to point out a floor colonial street than that which lay like a wide ribbon nil along the centre of the town, or finor, more productive lands than the fertile plains surrounding it. After giving an interesting account of the social condition of Waitaramoa, the authoress takes us on a trip to Bee the Melbourne Exhibition. The heroine, Ruth Lancaster, accompanied by some friends, engages a berth aboard the Waratera, and then commences the series of strange adventures which go to make up the ' Mvstery of the Forecastle.' It would be an ungrateful task to let the reader into the secret of a story not read by him or her, as the case may be. Every reader of a work of fiction knows that if some officious friend reveals the denouements, three parts of the interest in the work will have vanished. Therefore it is that we refrain from anticipating the pleasure which the readers of Mrs Macphersonsstory will feel by following the thread of the narrative from the first to the last chapter. The authoress is evidently a shrewd judge of human character and an observant admirer of Nature. Her diction is faultless, and without straining after effect she gives her readers enough of the sensational element to draw them on from chapter to chapter until the climax is reached. The plot is intricate and yet quite natural, and there is not a single incident recorded in the book which bears the stamp of exaggeration. We will give just another extract from the book in order to give our readers an idea of Mrs Macpherson's style. She is describing the trip down our harbor, during which the heroine makes tho acquaintance of one of those nice shallow-pated young ladies who are to be met with on board most of our steamers:—
Her attention was soon occupied by the lovely scenery amongst whieh tbe vessel Bteamed briskly down the bay; on one hand the beautiful Peninsula with iU handsome homestead?, on the other panoramic views ot Kavensbourne, St. Leonards, Port Chalmers. But she was not left long undisturbed to enj.iy the beauties of Nutu e, for a young girl with ftorid taste in drees (who evidently regarded herself as much more a'tractive tban any mere combination ot sea and shore) Bat down beside her in tho bows asking if she expected to be seasick. On being acswered in tbe negative the sagely shook her head, and assured lira Lancaster she would find herself mistaken, as ehe (riita Maud Caroline Downey) had been told by an authority this was tho roughest trip in the whole world. Mrs Lancaster gave one ot her ourious smi'ea; visions rcse before her of oertain wild angry Hebiidean seas, on whose billows she bad tosied in a mere fishing croft; of giant waves rushing furiously up the smooth sides ot Skerryvoro lighthouse ; of wrathful breakers rolling, with majestic foroe, Into, huge water-worn oaverns on the stormbeaten coast of Tyree; of a certain anxious cruise round the bleak, rough Hull of Cantire. She soon discovered the florid young lady possessed a combitive turn of mind—was desirous of airing personal grievances, an egotistical talker. Miss Maud Caroline did not long waste lier s wetness on Butb Lancaster; her brilliant diess was so id in close proximity to a> pair ot trousers. Maud Caroline had evidently found an audienoe more to her liking than plain, prosaic Mrs lanoagter.
The meohanical portion of the vork has been creditably executed.
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REVIEW., Evening Star, Issue 7960, 16 July 1889
REVIEW. Evening Star, Issue 7960, 16 July 1889
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