12 JUNE 1920, Page 22



OUR chief complaint with Miss McMahon is that she has indulged too much in pattern-making in an otherwise interesting and well- written novel. The contrasts and parallels run through the two generations concerned, for it is a story of parents and sons. Charles FitzHenry, the extremely capable but reserved official, is married to a decorative, selfish woman ; Reginald, his florid, pompous, emotional cousin, is undeservedly blessed with a wife whose worth is above rubies. Why did Charles marry Enid ? And why, oh wh , did Joan marry Reginald ? These inevitable queries repeat themselves when we come to the next generation. The sons take after their mothers in both families ; Joan's son John being reserved, efficient, self-sacrificing, while Enid's Philip is flamboyant, selfish, and self-protective, always using his cousin to help him out of his rather squalid scrapes. This habit reaches a climax when, on going to the war, Philip entrusts to his cousin the care of his betrothed, with whom John is deeply • The Outline of History: being a Plain History of Life and lificabind. By I. G. Wells. Vol. L London : Cl. Newnes. (22a. ed. net or 32s. 8d. net.] t Jahn iiltailaary: a Study. By Bala McMahon. London : Mills and Boon. ed. net.] in love. The war furnishes a, solution of the problem, for it eliminates Philip, though not until he has redeemed himself by a heroic end, and enables John to come into his own. With a little more self-assertion he might have grasped the prize at the beginning, but his diffidence is repaid in the long run. Here Miss MoMahon proclaims herself an adherent of the old school t solid merit triumphs and poetic justice is done. Incidentally, there is some excellent description of women war-workers in a Government department, but the scene which stands out from all the rest is the interview of Charles FitzHenry with the German spy in the Tower on the eve of his execution. Von Arnberg had been educated at Eton and Oxford, and in pre-war days had been a welcome guest at Fitallenry's house. The portrayal of the mingled strains of German " mentality " as exhibited in the super-spy is the most ambitious and striking effort of the novel ; but the illustrations of John's perfect though mostly inarticulate understanding with his mother are its greatest charm.