3 DECEMBER 1904, Page 39

The Truants. By A. E. W. Mason. (Smith, Elder, and

Co. 6s.)—Mr. Mason's new book confirms us in our opinion as to the real sphere for his talents. It is a story of a man who feels the romance of his marriage vanishing, and leaves his wife in 'order to preserve it. He fails, and afraid of her scorn should he return unsuccessful, he stays away, and goes through many wild adven- tures as a sailor in the North Sea and as a soldier in the Foreign Legion in Algeria. Meanwhile his wife begins to forget him, and almost yields to the intrigues of an adventurer, when the truant husband returns, successful at last, to find that he is not too late and that his wild experiment has succeeded beyond its deserts. That is the central story ; but as is Mr. Mason's habit, there is a side-plot, an additional love-story which acts as a foil to the main narrative. The author has become identified with the novel of adventure, but his real strength seems to us to lie in the quiet, patient elaboration of everyday character, the true novel of manners. The adventures make an effective background, and the windows of domestic life are always open towards a wider world. The psychology, perhaps, tends to be rather intricate than profound, and some of the complications of the plot seem artificial, but as a whole the craftsmanship is strong and careful.' Mr. Mason has much of the quality of the late Mr. Seton Meth- man. His philosophy of life is similar; there are the same

mannerisms of phrase and thought, and the same spacious back- ground of travel. Pamela Mardale, Warrisden, and especially the adventurer, Lionel Callon, might have appeared in any one of Mr. Merriman's books. It is a pleasure to find an author with so keen an eye to the romantic accessories of life, so robust a philosophy, and the power of drawing character so shrewdly and sanely. Mr. Mason's one danger is of_ confining himself to a limited number of types, for a groove, however excellent, is always to be regretted. In many ways the present volume is an advance on "The Four Feathers," but the characters in both have to strong a family likeness.