10 MAY 1930, Page 25


' THE SCHOOL FOR WIVES. By Andre Gide. (Knopf. Os.)—We have here a novel which is written in the form of a diary, kept by a woman during the days of her engagement and married life, and published in the hope that it may be read with profit by certain young women of the present day." It is not, as might be supposed from the title, a course of instruction for wives in general, but is the record of a par- ticular case. Its writer fell in love with a man whom her father disliked on the "Doctor Fell" principle : and she insisted on becoming engaged to him. The first pages, written in ecstatic humility, describe the diarist's joy at being loved by a man who "does not say or do anything like ordinary people," and who "never forgets his self- respect." Later the writer shows her realization that self- respect was only self-esteem, and, with the greatest subtlety, she conveys to us the character of the complete egotist—her husband. The book is remarkable only for its gradual and delicate revelation of a change of heart. The book is slight, but within its limitations is admirably handled. Restraint is its keynote : the author depends entirely on atmosphere and not on" domestic scenes" for interest. The process of disillusionment is uncannily slow : we scarcely know where love ends and hatred begins in the heart of a woman who is fettered by her own temperament. "Alas," she writes at the end, "He loves me still and I cannot leave him." We feel this book is a disappointing product of Monsieur Andre Gide's pen, perhaps bcause there was no scope in it for his admirable gift of descriptive writing.