10 MARCH 1906, Page 26

The Sea Maid. By Ronald Macdonald. (Methuen and Co. 6s.)

—In The Sea Maid the reader must prepare himself for a story on lines which may be called credibly fantastic. That is to say, the novel, although it does not deal with everyday life, has nothing in it which is actually impossible or incredible. It is, of course, highly improbable that the only survivors of a shipwreck should be a dignitary of the Church and his wife, but once acknowledge this to be a fact, and the subsequent history of the Rev. Archibald Prowdeflesche and his wife might quite well take place. A daughter is born to them in the desert island on which they are east, and these three work out a civilisation for themselves, from which they are rescued, just as the girl has grown up; by a small company of persons who are thrown upon the same island through a mutiny on board the vessel in which they sail. It will be perceived that the long arm of coincidence is very long indeed in this book, but the author may be forgiven, as the idyll of his desert island is really idyllic, and the heroine, brought up in these strange circumstances, is a very attractive young lady. The most successful figures in the book are the three persons mentioned above, for the hero and the middle-aged young lady who pursues him are conventional in the highest degree. Mr. Macdonald realises with extreme ingenuity the consequences of the residence of such a couple as he describes for twenty years away from all the resources of civilisation. For it must be noted that Mrs. Prowdeflesche has no wonderful bag such as that which provides every necessary of life to the mother in the "Swiss Family Robinson." She and her husband appear to have landed upon the island possessed, in the conventional phrase, only of what they stood up in. The book is an ingenious fantasy, and the reader will find that the time he spends in reading it passes very pleasantly.