22 MARCH 1935, Page 46


By Maud Cairnes

Strange Journey (Cobden-Sanderson, 7s. 6d.) is a remarkable little book : a good novel on a theme that is pure housemaid's delight. Mrs. Tom Wilkinson, contented in her suburb, devoted to her Tom, a capable mother and an economical housewife, sees in the-road one day a beautiful car with a woman leaning against the cushions inside. For a moment she wishes she might change places. . . - Not long afterwards, she has a sudden fit of giddiness. When it passes, she finds herself sitting in a high armchair in a panelled ,room, with a white-haired woman opposite. She finds emerald rings on her fingers, tapestry work on her knees : and the two dogs beside her growl, as if they had seen a ghost. From this point, the book might have gone on as high romance, or as farce of a kind one shudders to think of. It does verge on the romantic ; but it is saved, and made, by being told in the practical- words of Polly Wilkinson herself. Her gaffes on her various transla- tions into the body of Lady Elizabeth, her suburbanisms, her anguish when she finds herself suddenly on horseback in the middle of the hunting field, are all related with extreme common sense. One likes Polly Wilkinson. One likes her less when she takes Lady Elizabeth's husband in hand, and in the most virtuous manner possible leads him back into the fold ; the story, in essence, is richly sentimental. But Miss Maud Cairnes's contrast of two ways of life (through Polly) is quite seriously done, and het matter-of-factness produces at times an almost -Young Visiter effect. It was wise to stick to. Polly. One learns only as she learned it how Lady Elizabeth deputized for her ; how she amused the children, and took the great step of inviting Tom's employer and his wife to tea—so that all ends well for Polly as well as for her. A good many people will say that they cannot see much in this book ; but those who can will enjoy themselves.