11 MARCH 1922, Page 22

Heaven and Charing Cross. By Alice Herbert. (John Lane. 7s.

6d. net.)—This novel is extremely badly put together but it contains one section of so much humour that the faults of the book—faults both of taste and construction —may well be overlooked. It is, for instance, quite irrelevant that the story should be told by an exceedingly unpleasant but aristocratio cripple, who looks on at life from the invalid chair to which an accident has confined him, and finds much food for thought in the love affairs of his friends. As a matter of fact, the story of Martin and Shelley, which is the main theme of the book, owes nothing to the opening chapters. In these the advances of a certain middle-aged beauty named Adela, who tries to compromise Martin, are met by that young gentleman with an ingenuity which would hardly have been expected from any one with his naive and pious outlook on life. Presently Martin marries Shelley, the beautiful daughter of a bishop—the bishop being about to join the Roman Church and become a monk —and the young couple proceed to the East End, where their experiences are very diverting. They try to become lay curates to the Vicar, a certain Mr. May, who, with his attractively ugly wife, once Lady Alison, now known as Mrs. May, and a mysteriously fascinating curate, does a great deal of good work in the parish of London Vale. There are a good many lords and ladies to the square inch in this novel, for the defaulting Adela is Lady Henry something or other. In fact, the outlook of the book is frankly snobbish ; but the details of Martin's and Shelley's life in Huldreth Street, of their experiments and mistakes, and their final flight to the West End owing to the on-coming of Shelley's baby, are all depicted with so witty a realism that they are well worth reading. The final chapter contains a postscript to the story in which Martin, having, it may be supposed, taken orders in the Church of England, becomes the youngest bishop on record, and Mr. and Mrs. May, remaining at their post in the East End, realize that for him and for Shelley in . the traffic of Jacob's ladder,

Pitched between Heaven and Charing Cross,"

Charing Cross has won.