17 JULY 1915, Page 22

The Voice of the Turtle. By Frederick Watson. (Methuen and

Co. 6s.)—Mr. Frederick Watson is certainly clever enough : the greater the pity that he should allow two serious faults to spoil his work. He is, in the first place, guilty of caricature to the complete exclusion of all light and shade. His men and women, whose characteristics thrust themselves crudely upon our notice, seem all to have stepped out of some outrageous farce—the self-made man and his vulgar wife and pretty daughter, the bombastic vicar, even the lesser actors; and the shrewd analysis which lies behind their portraits is thickly veiled with exaggeration. The second fault of Mr. Watson's writing is closely allied to the first. He is unable to resist the temptation to be witty with a superficial clever- ness : since we can all make sharp remarks which involve no real discernment or philosophy, a novelist of Mr. Watson's unquestioned ability need not waste his time in doing it. And now that we have finished with unpleasant but necessary criticism, we are free to admit that we were vastly amused by the book, and by its general atmosphere of humour and hilarity ; the village gossip over the arrival at the Hall of the Floss family is especially delightful. For at those times when Mr. Watson forgets to be brilliant he reaches a very high level of fiction-writing.