22 AUGUST 1941, Page 20

Late Arrival

I Came Out of France. By Cicely Mackworth. (Routledge. 75.6e AMONG the many escape-from-France books that have appeared this will rank for the ordinary reader as one of the most interest- ing because it carries the narrative to a later date than the others. Attractively written, pleasantly devoid of "revelations " or facile theories about the complicated reasons for the French collapse, it tells of more friendships than enmities entered into during the author's "odyssee." She had lived for years in France and understood the French.

Though the story is far more psycholo.gical than political, Mrs. Mackworth in her 248 pages reveals the extent of the factions] spirit which so dangerously split French unity. What she has to say of the little town of Aubusson where " society was like s survival from another age " might be multiplied a thousandfold. The story of the Belgian and French refugees infected by German agents with Wanderlust has not before been so fully told as here, nor the diabolical efficiency of this " secret weapon " of Hitler's so fully examined in its political as well as its military results Only on June 26th, when all was lost, did a Minister of the Interior forbid the movement of refugees from one departement to another : we have yet to learn why. The order when issued was in the main effective, though Mrs. Mackworth dodged it as she dodged everything.

She was in France at the time of the Oran affair and describes the effect of the news. Marshal Petain's authority was then fairly intact, but General de Gaulle was also beginning to be a rallying- point for fresh hopes. In France, of course, the popular mind even now associates the two, by a process difficult for Englishmen to understand.

During the past fortnight I have talked at length with two Englishmen who left France only a month ago. One at first was unwilling, the other unable—because a prisoner in German hands —to leave. Both, like Mrs. Mackworth, knew the French Intimately and perhaps they or others may bring her story up to

date. All such narratives are packed with adventure; are the true experiences of resourceful, plucky and confidnt people— among them, this summer, many Frenchmen and women who have left relatives behind. We hear too little of such adventures —the authorities frown upon their disclosure—though, if known, they might, like Mrs. Mackworth's unpretentious but thrilling tale, cause the revision of some over-hasty judgements.