25 JUNE 1892, Page 25

A Younger Sister. By the Author of "The Atelier du

Lys." (Longmans and Co.)—A specimen of the unsensational class of one-volume novel that is decidedly above the average for merit is A Younger Sister, a slight, fresh, pleasant tale, which, though con- taining no crimes and no events more unusual or startling than a thunderstorm, a, lake-mist, a wedding, and a death from natural causes, yet easily holds one's attention and interest during the little more than an hour required for its perusal. The heroine, Guenola, is a girl who is not every-day, placed in a situation that is ; and in whom, taken as a whole, one of the most noteworthy features is perhaps her simple, matter-of-course, unconscious self-reliance. Whatever she thinks of doing, whether it be to go out in a boat, or into the world, or to look for a young man over- taken by a storm amongst dangerous crags where he has gone fern-hunting, the idea of needing a companion, or not being per- fectly competent to look after herself, and any one else too, never enters her head for a moment ; although at the same time there is not a trace of vanity or conceit in her com- position, nor is she by any means self-sufficing in the sense of being independent of natural affections. Hers is altogether one of those strong natures for which the obstructions encountered in life's stream serve to rub off angles without destroying force of individuality ; and the obstruction which especially effects this in her case is her father's inability to understand and make allow- ances for her " inconvenient and perplexing quality of originality." He is an unpractical, literary man, much governed by prejudice, and so hyper-sensitive as to seem less adequately provided with a moral skin than other people ; and from his lack of comprehension arises a jarring relation between them that no self-effacement on her part ever entirely removes, but which brings out the full beauty of her character, and its capacities for both action and endurance. Anxious—sometimes even to fussiness—for his children's welfare, he never guesses that his tender solicitude is oppressive to a disposition like hers ; and though himself highly cultivated, he disapproves entirely of her desire to learn Greek, mathematics, and grammar, instead of regulation young-lady accomplishments for which she has neither taste nor aptitude, such as music, draw- ing, and embroidery. When in the first few pages we find her ex- claiming, " Let me do what I can, not what I can't ! " we feel she is giving utterance to a most reasonable protest against the appli- cation of conventional education to everybody alike, regardless of natural gifts ; and the sympathy thus aroused for her in the reader at the outset she retains all through, till she is at last left happily married, and engaged in assisting her husband to manage the workwomen at his printing-works,—which occupation, since it satisfies her longings for a fitting field for her powers, the author apparently considers to be an adequate object for the aspirations of female ambition. Her sister Marcia, amiable, sweetly reason- able, gifted in a way, commonplace, and much more generally popular than Guenola, is cleverly contrasted with her, not only as regards disposition, but also conduct towards their father. The former thinks he can do no wrong, and is almost idolised by him, whereas he and the latter are a perpetual source of mutual irrita- tion ; but when they are tempted to leave him to be married, the favourite and apparently more dutiful one goes without hesita- tion, although she well knows she is his right hand, whereas the other sends away the man of her choice in order to stay and en- deavour to fill Marcia's place, undeterred by the thankless con- sciousness that her services will at best be accepted as a pis-alter.