22 MAY 1941, Page 24

Outside Information. A Diary of Rumour. By Naomi Royde- Smith.

(Macmillan. 5s.)

MISS ROYDE-SMITH'S purpose was to keep a diary of rumour; and she begins promisingly at the beginning of the London air- raids with the destruction of Liverpool Street station. But per- haps the conditions of this aerial war are not favourable to really fantastic rumours : rumours are apt to be dull and plausible, so the author soon abandoned her scheme and wrote just another blitz-book. Londoners now have to suffer what the inhabitants of Madrid once patiently endured—visits from the well-meaning who take back highly coloured accounts of their experiences. There are embarrassing personalities : letters from friends (" The soldiers rather make my heart ache—they are so sweet"); accounts of parties- which don't mean much to the reader (" And we've asked Ian—now Captain Akers-Douglas—and Joan and, only they know how many, brother officers and wives, to come in for a goodbye party . . .") and some prose which the former literary editor of the Saturday Westminster would never have let by.