15 APRIL 1882, Page 23

NOVELS.-It Is No Wonder. By J. Fitzgerald Molloy. 3 vols.

(Hurst and Blackett.)—The obvious criticism which will occur, we suppose, to all who estimate the value of this novel (and it is cer- tainly worth estimating), is that it does not give us what it professes to give,—" A Story of Bohemian Life." When we come to read about its main subject, the great passion which makes Capri, the heroine, leave her husband for her lover, Guy Rutherford, we are strongly inclined to wish that the promise had been kept. These great passions, unless they are described with a power which Mr Molloy does not show himself to possess, are wearisome and dis- tasteful to the last degree. We see nothing in this narrative to make it at all better than others of the same kind. Mr. Molloy uses some very fine words ; now and then, his descriptions are, to say the least, as warmly coloured as good taste permits ; but it is nothing but a dismal story of selfish indulgence, punished at last by a catastrophe which is oven more improbable than the visitations of poetical justice commonly are. The adulterer and his partner in sin are drowned in a life- boat, which the woman, who presumably has never had a tiller in her hand before, is steering, in a terrific storm ! The attempt to throw a halo of heroism about these two profligates is very ill-judged, and it is quite as well that it has been unintentionally made wholly absurd. Happily, there are better things than this in the novel. The earlier parts are decidedly good. The artist, who is a marvellously ordinary person for a subject of the Bohemian realm, interests us; so does Mrs. W. Achilles Loudon, the rich American widow. Mr. Molloy should leave women-killers like Guy Rutherford to the lady novelists, who delight to describe them, and exercise a pen not wanting in skill on more hopeful subjects.—Phyllida. By Florence Afarryat (Mrs. Francis Lean). 3 vols. (F. V. White.)— The heroine makes her first appearance as a singer in a Chicago music-hall, who has been discharged for drunkenness ; her second as an ingenue, the inmate of an aunt's house in an English country village. Here she wins the heart of the parson, a gentleman who asserts his freedom of thought by wearing a velvet coat. She flies, for certain good reasons that she has, from the declaration of his love, but surrenders when he pursues. Of course, a friend, who had helped in the Chicago epoch of her career, appears upon the scene ; her antecedents come out, and then follows the natural catastrophe. Finally, there turns up an interesting problem of casuistry and law. The heroine had

married her parson while her first husband was still alive, but then she had ran away from him on the day of their marriage, and she had obtained an American divorce from him, on the ground of his im- prisonment for crime. Was a remarriage necessary, lawful, or expe- dient? This is a sketch of what Mrs. Lean calls a "life-drama," and the best criticism is, perhaps, to leave it without comment to the reader's judgment. One thing we may note. Surely the author; whose novels are long past our power of counting, should have learnt by this time to write better English than this : "She had sung the song in a manner most unusually heard in private life."—Two Turns of the Wheel. By John Baker Hopkins. (Newman and Co.)—Mr. Grammer, the hero of this story, has a fortune left him by a relative in India ; magnified by a mistake which turns rupees into pounds, he launches out into extravagant expenditure,—this is one "turn of the wheel ;" his wealth shrinks into its proper limits,—this is the second turn. Of course, there are the usual circumstances which attend such change of fortune ; fair-weather friends, for instance, who depart with the sunshine. We are bound to say that the story of false hopes, of the pride of newly-found wealth, of selfish fortune- hunting, and the like, is somewhat dreary. Mr. Hopkins paints all these things in a crude and unrelieved way. The best part of the book is to be found in the earlier chapters ; and there is no one whom we like so much as the old cobbler, whom Mr. Grammer begins by intro- ducing to us as his father.