19 MAY 1923, Page 20



Tins is an interesting novel, and in many respects an original one. Perhaps the reviewer cannot do better than give a sort

of vague summary, and quote a specimen of the style.

Carinthia is out of work, on the edge of despair, tramping London. Her first contact is with a Russian, a poor refugee : who gives her some food, and then when one is just growing interested in him, is gone. Then the main thread begins. Carinthia is pitchforked into a household to which neither she nor the reader holds the slightest clue : the household of Patrick Temple, a well-known artist, and Pelham Wace, his pupil. There is Mary—Mrs. Temple—an incomprehensible creature till one recovers the clue of her past : and there is Laura—beautiful, vulgar in a few mannerisms rather than in nature, still very young and yet a mistress for the second time, an enigmatic creature never fully explained, even in her last desperate act. There is Pelham's love for her, and Carinthia's growing love for Pelham : Pelham's growing interest in Carinthia : the reaction, portrayed in one quite excellent scene, of Carinthia and Laura : and in four short days the whole thing is over. But one is left with the feeling that the influence of those four days on Carinthia, as well as on the more direct participants in the drama, will be quite incalculable.

This is only the barest summary : the plot is worked out with a breadth, a contemporaneous attention to the different threads of the narrative, that is highly admirable. As for the style, it is, by its very ideals, difficult. The following is rather an extreme specimen :-

"' No.' Carinthia clinched her exchange suddenly with a mono- syllable that went no farther. They seemed to her all at once, in the umber shell of the hall, a group with ears, which held its multi- feelers of interpretation over the abyss of her recent dereliction. That was receding. How quickly it was receding ! Why should she play moon to its tides in order to market their sympathy ? "

That is an extreme example : but even that, in its proper context, is plain as a pikestaff. Miss Coyle has the rare knack of evolving lucidity by the nice correlation of obscurities. Therefore anyone who tries to skip when reading Piccadilly deserves all the confusion he gets.