13 NOVEMBER 1909, Page 27

Bella Donna. By Robert Hichens. 2 vols. (W. Heinemann. 4s.

net.)—Mr. Hichens lays the scene of his new novel partly in London and partly on the Nile. His heroine is a woman who, having led a notorious life in her youth, persuades Nigel Armine, the owner of property in the Fayum in Egypt, to marry her. This she does partly because her popularity is failing, and partly because she hopes that Nigel Amine will succeed his brother as Lord Harwich. The Nemesis of a great infatuation overtakes Mrs. Chepstow when she has become Mrs. Armine, and she falls into the power of a half-Anglicised native millionaire, Baroudi. Under his influence she attempts to poison her husband, who is finally rescued by an old friend of his, Dr. Meyer Isaacson. It will be seen that the subject of the story is not agreeable ; but Mr. Hichens invests his book with a good deal of the glamour of the East, and his study of the " Bella Donna" of the title is both clever and merciless. The figure of Baroudi is perhaps rather conventional, and the author does not contrive to make Nigel Armine, the unfortunate husband, particularly attractive. The book as a whole is a clever piece of work, and the reader has the consolation of reflecting that the fate which in the end overtakes the heroine is richly deserved.