15 NOVEMBER 1946, Page 28

Boni of these authors live in East Anglia—if the Essex-Suffolk

border may be admitted into that delectable region. But if they both share much the same scene and portray much the same people, there is a considerable gap between their attitudes ; for Mr. Steward is the practising farmer and Mr. Bensusan is the unhurried spectator of the rural scene. Mr. Steward says that the purpose of his diary (which has appeared week by week in a well-known daily newspaper) is to bring townsman and countryman into a closer understanding of each other. To this end he describes the work on his farm through the four seasons, not avoiding technicalities, yet at the same time popularising the whole by utilising certain recurring characters. The effect is to make the reader feel that at the end of the year he really knows the farm down the lane, its fields, its workers and its work. The information, naturally, is authentic and the style pleasantly journalistic—a combination that should help Mr. Steward to achieve his wholly laudable object. Mr. Bensusan's style, like his matter, is rather more flowery. His diary covers no given year, but is apparently based on some notes he made at leisure, before the first world war, " in a country cottage whose peace seemed inviolate." It ranges from modest observations on bird, beast and flower to snatches of conversation with all and sundry, often in that standard- ised Essex dialect which Mr. Bensusan does so well. Perhaps he is over-fond of quaint characters ; the interest in the country is more realistic, more factual, than it was in those ampler days of which he writes.