17 APRIL 1880, Page 23

NOVELS.—Mary Browne. By L. E. Wilton. 3 vols. (Smith and

Elder.)—The first volume of this novel contains a description, exag- gerated indeed, but not without a certain vigour, of life in a great girls' school. We do not suppose that the characters or incidents represent very closely actual realities, but the account of them is, anyhow, readable, nor is there anything objectionable in it. We can- not say as mach for the volumes that follow. The story falls into a dullness which is not relieved by sensational surprises. The heroine's passion for the hero is unaccountable in its origin and absurd in its development, and finds its close in a result which is improba- ble in the last degree. The only thing in this part of the novel that strikes us as good is the character of Mrs. Wilmot. This is a really clever sketch, though it is necessarily but slight. But after we part with her, we find nothing that is pleasant, or even edifying. We have little to say in favour of the moral tone of the story; it certainly is not elevated.—The Sword of .Damocles, by Theodore A. Tharp, 3 vols. (Chapman and Hall), and Harrington's Fortunes, by Alfred Randall, 3 vols. (Samuel Tinsley), are really about as dull and unendurable as any books that it has ever been our fortune to come across. It would be difficult to say which has the sinister pre-eminence. The former contains twenty- eight thousand and odd, the latter twenty-four thousand and odd, lines. But then the style of Harrington's Fortunes is distinctly superior. One does not find in its rival anything so utterly mad- dening as this :—" Depositing a silver shilling on the car-driver's extended palm, Harrington alighted at the market-place of Kilkee, a central location where four roads transversely intersect. Igniting a cigar, he struck into one of them, a familiar path leading to the cliffs, concluding he would alleviate the stiffness of his cramped limbs before he sought the shelter of bis tenement, when Tim Looney," &c.—Lord Garlford's Freak. By James B. Baynard. 3 vols. (Samuel Tinsley.)—This novel can scarcely be said to be well written. The style is somewhat slipshod, and gener- ally the literary merit of the book is but slight, yet it has the crown- ing merit of being distinctly readable. Coming, as it did, in the coarse of our reading immediately after the two last-mentioned, we found it above the average of merit. The characters are cleverly drawn, though there is no pretence of any very careful study or subtle analysis. It would be an injustice to criticise the plot, for this we could hardly do without revealing its chief surprise. Let it suffice to say that this is well conceived, and will probably be what it claims to be, to most readers. Mr. Baynard will excuse us for reminding him that it is not generally reckoned to have been one of the sorrows of Andromache, that she was exposed to a sea-monster:— Hurst Carewe a Tale of Two Christmases, by "H. E. S." (Ward and Lock), is presumably a first effort. It has beguiled, we are told, weary hours of the writer. We can scarcely hope that it will do as much for a reader.