7 DECEMBER 1901, Page 24

The Awakening of Helena Thorpe. By E. Rentoul Esler. (S.

W. Partridge and Co. 3s. 6d.)—In this story of everyday life in a village Mrs. Rantoul Esler has succeeded in giving a touch of poetry and romance to that ordinarily prosaic person, a rich retired man of business. Richard Dean left Snnnymeads, his home, as a penniless boy, and returned to it a middle-aged man with a fortune. In the meantime most of his old friends and neighbours had left the place, and there was hardly more than a tradition of his boyhood. He built a fine house, and settled down to become a. local magnate. Of course all the gossips said he must be on the look out for a wife, and picked out a nice lady of about forty as a suitable person. This lady, Miss Agnes Harper, and her elder sister, who lived together, welcomed Mr. Dean very kindly, even before they began to look upon him in the exhilarating light of a possible suitor, and he was touched at their not being " high " to a self-made man. The Miss Harpers determined to give a dinner-party in his honour, to which, besides some "county" families, Mr. and Mrs. Thorpe, of the village, were asked. Mrs. Thorpe happened to be ill, and Lena, her daughter, went instead. The party is well described, and here, as well as in the rest of the book, Mrs. Rentoul Esler has got the real atmosphere of village society. Mr. Dean, who in spite of his years has plenty of ardour and energy left, for he has never wasted away, falls desperately in love with Helena Thorpe, and his wooing and the awakening of his lady make a very readable book.