26 JANUARY 1878, Page 20

Sheen's Foreman. By Lady Wood. (Chapman and Hall.)—There are in

all Lady Wood's novels a degree of originality, joined to a careless strength—we might almost say audacity—of expression, and a breezy energy, that carry her readers on from the first page to the last,— interested in spite of the slightness and improbabilities of her plot, and amused in spite of the extremely unpleasant set of people to whom it 'pleases her to introduce them. Sheen's Foreman is neither quite so wild nor quite so clever as "Wild Weather," but it is clever enough 'to make us regret the want of restraining refinement which would make the powers of imagination and insight into character which Lady Wood possesses at once more impressive and more agree- able in their results. The group of Cornish farm-folk, among whom this .stery is laid, are drawn with much vigour. They are racy of the soil, and the elder Sheen, the grasping and tyrannical master of his young cousin (and real owner of his farm), and his foreman, "Ben," are very lifelike, but they are not people whose acquaintance is either profitable or plea- sant ; and their foils, Ben and his cousin Lucy (the old farmer's 'daughter), are too colourless to relieve the harshness of the picture. 'Lucy herself, with her boarding-school daintiness, and her imaginary love for the watery curate, who represents to her the upper world of gentility after which she longs, at one time promises to be a centre of alai interest; but her heartless cruelty and ingratitude towards her -cousin makes her, too, almost repulsive, and the interest of the story falls back upon the old farmer and his servant Biddy, who, from the first time we see her taking into her bed the neglected child who creeps to her door in the middle of the night, to the end, where we leave her in the farm kitchen tending the broken-down farmer (broken down under the burden of his well-merited punishment), and another work- louse child which, in a mood .of dim remorse and semi-conscious atonement, he has adopted, is admirably and consistently portrayed.