13 JANUARY 1906, Page 24

Miss Desmond. By Marie Van Vorst. (W. Heinemann. 6s.)— Miss

Marie Van Vorst makes a great departure in Miss Desmond from her last novel, "Amanda of the Mill." Her present book deals with a set of worldlings whose society is enriched by the arrival of a charming spinster of a certain age who hails from New England. Twenty, or even ten, years ago it would have been impossible for Virginia, the New England lady, to have been the heroine of a novel ; but every year heroines grow older, and Virginia is a striking example of this fact. She would be perhaps a little more credible if she were not quite so beautiful,—it is manifestly unfair for the heroine of a book to combine the wisdom of age with the attractiveness of youth. But all the other characters of the novel are so extremely un- pleasant that we may be grateful to the author for giving us a delightful heroine, even if we cannot entirely believe in her. Miss Desmond is entirely a novel of society, and of a society not at all of an edifying kind. There are, indeed, one or two faults of taste in the book, which will not recommend it to the fastidious reader. But the analysis of character is well if rather pitilessly done, and the descriptions of the Swiss scenery amidst which the action passes are decidedly attractive. The book, however, is by no means on the same level as "Amanda of the Mill."