25 JANUARY 1896, Page 11

The Wonderful Visit. By H. G. Wells. (Dent and Co.)—This

is likely to prove a lively disappointment to admirers of Mr. Wells's former story, "The Time Machine." One need hardly say that it is excellently well written, for that might ho con- fidently expected of the author. It is also in parts sufficiently entertaining ; and that is very nearly all the commendation we can bestow upon it. The cause of the failure, we think, lies in the fact that the author never quite made up his mind what kind of a book he wished to write ; whether it was to be a scathing satire, an amusing farce, or a mere fantastic extravagance. As it is, the pleasant fantasy of an angel's visit to earth, is spoilt by the satirical element, and the satire is weakened by its farcical exaggerations. The story is amusing in parts, but the parts do not hang together. Mr. Wells also appears to have been handicapped by his desire not to offend his more serious public by the introduction of a " real " angel, with the result that his chief character is too shadowy and inconsistent to awaken any interest at all. His sketch of the ornithological rector who is bullied by a loud voiced curate and his wife, is drawn with a certain whimsical pathos which goes far to redeem the book ; the idyllic episode of Delia, the house- maid, is also prettily conceived and worked out. But Sir John Gotch, Lady Hammergallow, and their friends, are exaggerated to the verge of coarseness. The initial idea of the story is not a bad one, and, up to a certain point, is well carried out. When we read how a kindly rector, out of his love for birds, shoots an angel in mistake for a rare specimen ; how he binds up the wounded wing, and, taking his visitor home, puts him, for ap- pearance's sake, into a snit of his own clothes ; how the village will not believe in him as an angel, but will only accept him as a deformity with a talent for music ; and how even the good rector's belief in his guest sometimes wavers,—we are prepared to find much entertainment in a tale which promises many pleasant complications. Unhappily, those expectations are not fulfilled, and we get nothing but a half-serious, half-farcical skit upon the grovelling meanness of humanity ; a skit which is at once too savage and too trifling.