26 OCTOBER 1878, Page 24

A Simple Maiden. By Leslie Keith. (Marcus Ward.)—This is as

good a number as we have seen in the " Blue Bell Series." Hester and Rose are the two heroines, and the shallow selfishness of the one and quiet, deep devotion of the other are well contrasted. The story of Hester's love is prettily told ; but unless it is quite de rigueur that the lady's faith and unselfishness should be tried by false tidings of her lover's marriage, we should say that this incident in the working-out of the plot might have been well spared.—Clare, by Lizzie Aldrich, belonging to the same series, is a study of some originality and power, but scarcely finished. A girl whom circumstances have brought to an uncongenial home, and a young man whom family reverses have forced into an uncongenial employment, meet by accident. They are " spirits in prison," whom a mutual love releases. There is something in this beyond the common prettiness and sentiment, innocent or noxious, as the case may be, which make up the ordinary love-story ; but what Miss Aldrich has given us is little more than a sketch. Yet when one reflects that it has certainly more substance than many three-volume novels, with all their elaboration, contain, it would be unreasonable to quarrel with it.