15 MAY 1880, Page 22

NOVEL8.—No Relations. By Hector Malot. Edited by the Author of

"Hogan, M.P." 3 vols. (Bentley.)—This is an excellent noveb showing all the vivacity which we are accustomed to associate with French fiction, and wholly free from any of its characteristic defects. M. Malot has shown novelists, both English and French, how to write a story of really absorbing interest, without having recourse to means which the most scrupulous could consider illicit. He has achieved, in fact, a more remarkable feat, for he has written a long story with not a syllable, we may say, about love in it from beginning to end. It is true, we find the hero married at the end, and married to one of the friends of his youth. But as we have parted from this young lady when she was not more than eight or nine years of age, there has been no opportunity for love-making. Remi, the hero, is first presented to us in the cottage of his foster mother, in Chavanon, in Central France. His career begins when he is sold, so to speak, to a wandering Italian, who takes about with him a troupe of performing dogs. The character of this man, Vitalis by name, is an admirable sketch. Vitalis perishes of cold and hunger, and Remi finds a young Italian, Mattis, who is the Pylades of his wanderings. These wanderings, performed by these two, with the intelligent Capi, sole survivor of the troupe, and not the least pleasing and in- teresting personage in the narrative, form an admirable story, which we strongly recommend our readers to follow for themselves. M. Malot is not quite at home in England, whither he brings his hero. The magis- trate before whom the innocent Remi is brought is not in the least like an English " J.P.," nor is the escape a probable incident. But these are quite unimportant defects. We cannot but wish that the book had been better translated. We wish that tbe misleading word " edited " were disused in this connection. The accomplished author of "Hogan, M.P.," can scarcely, we should say, have executed the translation herself, nor can we imagine what kind of supervision she has exercised over it. —Sealed by a Kiss, by Jean Middlemass. 3 vols. (Tinsley Brothers.) —This is an improvement on what we recollect as having come before from the author's pen. Captain Cressington, a fashionable young Guardsman, with a turn for romantic philanthropy, seeks to "raise" a flower-girl, whose speaking eyes and intelligent address have attracted his attention. The story of the relation between these two makes an interesting narrative, which Miss Middlemass tells with a certain dramatic power. Even the disappointing denouement is, we must acknowledge, artistically managed. We think that the parallel story of Wren's little brother, though it has a certain pathos, might have been advantageously omitted, or rather, we should say, made the subject of a separate tale. Nor can we express a very high opinion of the merits of the love-story of the Polish Count and Virginia Cressington. On the other hand, Vestris Simonis, the ballet-master, is a clever sketch, though his moral character developes under the author's hand in a way that we fear is scarcely true to nature. But this is an error in which Mies Middlemass has been pre- ceded by more than one master of fiction. We must remark that La Rooliefoucald (sic) never said anything so brutal as "Nothing delights a man so much as the misfortunes of his friends." His sentiment was rather,—" There is something not displeasing to us in the misfortunes of our friends."—Martha and Mary. 2 vols. (Smith and Elder.)— This is a disappointing book. It opens well; the writer has clearly the gift of making photographic pictures with the pen. The little Baptist chapel is clearly drawn from the life. In the first place, it is not an outsider who knows the difference between Baptists and Particular Baptists, and next there are little touches without end in this description that scarcely genius could have invented. However this may be, when we get out of the region of she chapel and its belongings the interest ceases. There is an unhappy marriage and a happy marriage, a "claimant," a resuscitated husband intervening in the most unwelcome way, and other sensational incidents, which one has read over and over again before, and got heartily tired of. The writer seems to have been possessed by an idea that she must have a story and a plot. It is certainly usual to have them, but this novel they certainly spoil. A quiet, simple narrative, without any horrors or surprises, of how some girl grew up and loved and was married, told with the power that is shown in the earlier part of Martha and Mary, would have been far more pleasing than what we have here.