Novels and Other Books–Chiefly Bad

H.L. Mencken

The Smart Set/August, 1909

A NEW novel from the workshop of Mrs. Humphry Ward is a literary event, and the goddess-fearing critic, I believe, is expected to deal with it copiously and enthusiastically. But in the case of “Marriage a la Mode” (Doubleday-Page, $1.50) I must ask for a suspension of the league rules. It is a commonplace story, told with so little skill that it descends more than once to positive banality. I find myself utterly unable to hail it as a work of genius, or even as a work of art. It is merely a good average novel.

Mrs. Ward’s heroine is an emotional young woman who seems to visualize the author’s conception of iconoclastic Young America. Racially, she is a mixture of Latin and Celt, with all the passion of the one and all the chronic delusion of persecution of the other. Left orphaned and rich, she falls in love with an appallingly handsome Englishman of limited intelligence, and by dint of adroit maneuvering, marries him. And then begins the drama.
The Englishman, once safely at home with his wife, renews in a harmless but imprudent fashion an old affair with a distant cousin. Thereupon, the wife, flying into a frenzy of jealousy, accuses him of all the high crimes and misdemeanors on the connubial calendar, and hires spies to watch him. One scrap of circumstantial evidence is enough for her.

Grabbing up her child, she is in full flight before her dull Britisher can halt her. Her destination is South Dakota, and the jurisprudence of that enlightened republic soon gives her freedom. When her husband ventures to oppose her suit she takes an appeal to the yellow journals. All good Americans stand together on her side. The Sassenach is kicked out of the country.

The fair American, naturally enough, lives to rue her indecent haste and more indecent perjury most bitterly, and after her child dies and her ex-husband takes to drink she ventures upon a feeble effort at atonement. But the ex-husband has had enough of America and the Americans. Like Laurence Trenwith, in “Iris,” he can only say, “I am sorry.” Tears cannot wither nor memories pale his infinite irreconcilability. At the end we see the two part forever, to the somber strains of the retribution motif.

It would be absurd, of course, to deny Mrs. Ward’s technical facility and general feeling for form and color. She is a craftswoman of long experience and obvious ability, and so she is able to give her characters a certain air of plausibility, no matter how amazing their actual acts. Even her heroine has abundant reality. But there are also touches in the book that suggest the rude, untutored writer of best sellers. Far back, upon page 221, for example, the author introduces a new character whose sole purpose and function it is to hear the tale of all that has happened on pages 218, 219 and 220, which are blank. Such clumsy devices for getting on with the story are inexcusable in a novelist who pretends to the first rank. They remind one, indeed, of the preposterous soliloquies which opened the sentimental dramas of the ’70’s.

There are other places, too, where the ingenuity of the author seems to flag. The general effect of the book, indeed, is that of a somewhat tiresome task accomplished without enthusiasm. Bearing some new author’s name, it would give a hundred hints of talent yet undeveloped. Bearing Mrs. Ward’s, it gives a thousand hints of talent unemployed.

The latest work of Ellen Glasgow’s, “The Romance of a Plain Man” (Macmillan, $1.50), must inevitably invite comparison with Mary Johnston’s “Lewis Rand,” for both deal with the excessively snobbish aristocracy of Richmond, and each has for its hero a common man who woos and wins a fair daughter of that aristocracy, and then finds, to his sorrow, that even such a feat cannot transform a commoner into a patrician. The comparison of one book with the other need not proceed further. They have little in common save the theme, for Miss Johnston’s volume is a work of art, while Miss Glasgow’s is not.

The hero of this story is a prodigious scion of Richmond’s poor white trash —a boy who senses the subtle difference between “who” and “whom” at the age of five (see page 38, line 12) and who rises, before he is thirty, to the rank and dignity of a captain of finance. In his nonage the little daughter of a proud old Virginia house laughs at him and calls him common; in his manhood he marries her, though without any actual notion of revenge. It is the conflict between the patrician poise and dignity of the wife and the plebeian running amuck of the husband that makes the drama. He is capable of loving her, but he can never quite understand her. He believes at the start that the difference in rank which separates them is a mere convention; that so soon as he learns how to enter a room without falling over the rugs he will be her equal. But, like Lewis Rand, he finds out in the end that it takes more than a belt to make an earl of a dustman.

The idea at the bottom of Miss Glasgow’s story is a good one, and the general plan of it is sound. But more than once the details are incredible. In one place, for example, she shows us the alert and resourceful Ben Starr reduced of a sudden to such abject poverty that his wife is forced to take in washing. That a man of his reputation should have no friends willing, and even eager, to help him in his need seems entirely impossible. To accept the situation we must consider him as a being in vacuo. Again, the relatives of Ben, and particularly his brother, are not convincing figures. Miss Glasgow’s best portraits, indeed, are those of her aristocratic characters. No doubt this is because the Richmond that she knows best is the Richmond that they people.

“Fate and the Butterfly,” by Forest Halsey (Dodge, $1.50), is a first book of uneven texture, which makes up in promise what it lacks in fulfillment. Mr. Halsey writes clear English; his characters often have reality, and he has more than a touch of wit. The faults of his book are deep down in the structure of it: the author lacks the technical skill properly to manage his fable.

The central figure is Bertha De Francis, a little daughter of the rich. Falling in love with Damien Roth, a handsome young devil of a millionaire, she accompanies him to the hymeneal altar and then discovers, when it is too late, that he is an incurable drug fiend. It is the business of the story to show how Bertha’s life with her husband, despite her honest efforts to lift him up, inevitably drags her down. She leaves him, eventually, and goes to Europe as the mistress of an old suitor, himself now a grass widower. There a third man comes into her life, and through him, in the end, she finally reaches redemption.

In itself, the self-sacrifice of this third man is not improbable—for no pretty woman, however contaminated. need long in vain for a respectable husband—but the author fails to prepare for it skillfully. We are not made acquainted with the man; he pops in like Castor and Pollux or the rescuing jack tars of comic opera. We learn nothing about the mental processes behind his acts. We see him only as a deliverer in a cloud, and so he takes away the reality of the story.

“The Lodger Overhead,” by Charles Belmont Davis (Scribners, $1.50), is a book of short stories which nowhere touch greatness and nowhere touch stupidity. They are smoothly written, in an easy, colloquial style; their people are interesting, and the philosophy underlying them is that of a well-fed, middle-aged looker-on. This latter gentleman, indeed, is an actual character in nearly all of them. He is the Van Bibber of Mr. Davis’s brother, Richard Harding, grown meditative and paunchy. One feels, from the first, his extreme fashionableness. He goes among the common folk, aiding true love here and honest poverty there, but it is ever as a visitor from a superior planet. Even when, in one story, he marries a poor but proud Southern girl, one suspects that it is not common love, but a sort of delirium of pity, that moves him.

If Mr. Davis is wise he will put this character into a play. The stories called “The Band” and “The Dancing Man” show how admirably he would serve as the hero of a sentimental comedy.

“The Gipsy Count,” a medieval romance by May Wynne (McBride, $1.50), is true to type. On page one the solitary horseman of G. P. R. James comes galloping o’er the sky line, and on the last page “her hazel eyes are looking into his, reading the passion in them.”

Incidentally, the book breaks the best-seller record by showing questionable diction in its very first word. This word is “westwards,” which would convey the same idea without irritating the ear if the final “s” were omitted. The letter “s” seems to be a favorite among the writers of department-store fiction. They write “besides,” “towards,” “upwards” and “outwards “ whenever the chance offers, and the phrase “a little ways” seems to give many of them delight. The dictionaries say that the use of the “s” is allowable, but offer no arguments. If any gentleman in the house can defend it upon reasonable grounds I shall be glad to hear from him.

Miss Wynne’s romance, to return to the business before us, is a conventional tale of love making and heroics. It has action, sentiment, suspense, thrills, eloquence—everything, in short, save that subtle art which separates a good book from a bad one.

“Mr. Opp,” by Alice Hegan Rice (Century Co., $1.25), is a worthy companion piece to “Mrs. Wiggs.” In it one finds the same whimsical humor, the same skill at drawing eccentric characters and the same touch of sentiment. D. Webster Opp, country editor and dreamer, is the central figure, but there are many others. Opp is a sort of mixture of Mulberry Sellers and the Chevalier Bayard. One chuckles over his bombastic absurdities—and then comes his act of sacrifice, and the chuckle dies. Altogether, a charming little book.
A book of curious interest and no little value is “Haremlik,” by Demetra Vaka Brown (Houghton-Mifflin, $1.25). Mrs. Brown is a Greek, born in Constantinople, and spent her childhood there, with little Turks of the upper classes as her playmates. In her later youth she came to the United States and, after a while, married an American. Then, having been absent nine years, she returned to old Stamboul and spent several months visiting her friends. Most of the girls were married by now, and some were married to men with other wives. As a result, Mrs. Brown had an excellent chance to study polygamy from within the harem, and from the harem woman’s point of view.

Her verdict seems to be that polygamy, at least in Turkey, has much to recommend it. The women are well cared for; there is little disagreement between them, and they appear to be happy. The notion that they are miserable, groveling slaves, who are bought and sold like cattle is a grotesque fiction of the missionaries. As a matter of fact, practically all of those visited by Mrs. Brown were women of refinement and culture, whose husbands held them in enormous respect. They spoke and read French, German and often English; they were aware of Nietzsche, Marx and Debussy, and they had reached the conclusion, by a purely intellectual route, that Christianity was a mass of platitudes and exploded fallacies.

The idea that, in the United States, respectable women had to submit to the bossing and ogling of floorwalkers, stage managers and other libidinous fellows in order to earn a living, filled them with horror. Contemplating our divorce laws, they were almost moved to send out Mohammedan evangelists to our shores to save us from hell.

As for sympathy, the majority of them laughed at it. Were women ripe for sympathy whose husbands loved them and cherished them in sickness and in health? Were women ripe for sympathy upon whom Allah had showered the blessings of sons? Were women to be pitied who had only to say what they wanted and it was theirs—whether a new book, a new frock, another brand of cigarettes, or another slave? The ladies of the harem, laying aside “Zur Genealogie der Moral,” made effort, with all the politeness in the world, to rescue Mrs. Brown from her American prejudices and sophistries. They urged her, indeed, to marry some likely Turk, and so settle down to a normal, civilized life. They even offered to ensnare the Turk.

Such books, particularly if they are as well written as the present one, serve a useful purpose. Insidiously, but none the less effectively, they help to undermine our national bigotry. This bigotry is our besetting sin. It makes us underestimate everything that is exotic—the German army, the French drama, the English business man, the Moslem religion. It leads us to send out callow young fanatics, with bulging Adam’s apples and translucent ears, to teach philosophy and morality to peoples who were already suffering from gout before we had reached measles.

Four books of a virulent and polemical character come next upon my five-mile shelf of newborn classics. The first is a neat and handy reprint of “ The Fabian Essays in Socialism,” by George Bernard Shaw, Mrs. Annie Besant, Sir Sydney Olivier and other evangelists of the new order (Ball Pub. Co., 50 cents); the second is poor old Mark Twain’s latest quasi-book, “Is Shakespeare Dead?” (Harper, $1.25); and the other two are Fremont Rider’s “Are the Dead Alive?” (Dodge, $1.50) and Percy MacKaye’s “The Playhouse and the Play” (Macmillan, $1.25). It is the purpose of Shaw and his crowd to prove that Socialism, if given a fair chance, would make human existence one grand, sweet song; it is the purpose of Mark Twain to prove that the plays of Shakespeare were not written by Shakespeare, but by some hypothetical person who may be designated by x; it is the purpose of Mr. Rider, obscured by many vain protestations of neutrality, to prove that spooks are as real as tax bills; and it is the purpose of Mr. MacKaye to prove that the American drama is fast going to the devil, and that only the bullion of some philanthropic millionaire can save it. It may be said, in brief, before we go further, that all and several of these proofs fail to convince, and that all and several of these purposes fail to be achieved.

Mr. Rider’s book is a massive, illustrated summing-up of the “evidence” gathered during the past half-century by the principal necromancers of Europe and America. He has rounded up every professor, theologian, astronomer and yellow journalist in the synagogue, and he has reduced their wild fictions and rhapsodies to clear, simple English. He has presented his case with admirable judgment and enthusiasm, and his book, as a book, is one of the best that spook chasing has to its credit in the language. But for all its workmanlike graces, it is still a mere compendium of stale thrillers. The psychic researchers labor day and night, and scour the visible and invisible worlds for fresh banshees and new proofs that death is a joke, but SirWilliam Crookes’s account of his encounters with Katie King, back in the ’8o’s, remains at once the most convincing and the most incredible affidavit that they have yet put in evidence.

Mr. Rider, like every other historian of the black art, is vastly impressed by the learned degrees borne by some of its professors. Because Dr. Hyslop once taught logic to rah-rah boys, he assumes that Hyslop is a great logician—which I doubt. Because the Italian “scientists” who were bamboozled by that queen of frauds, Eusapia Paladino, were all doctors or professors, he assumes that they were also intelligent men—which by no means follows. And because Sir William Crookes gave the world the X-rays, he assumes that Crookes has X-ray eyes which see through all human chicanery instantly and infallibly. He even lays down the ludicrous proposition that “all but one or two” of the world’s chief scientists believe in spirits. Has he never heard of old Dr. Ernst Haeckel, or of Ehrlich, Metchnikoff, Weismann, Le Dantec, Lankester, Wright, Welch, Koch and Flexner?

Crookes’s story of Katie King is familiar to all students of hallucination. He says that Katie was a spirit materialized in his house by a medium named Cook. Miss Cook, he asks us to believe, produced Katie out of the empty air, and not only Katie, but also Katie’s clothes—her “rat,” her belt buckle, the very talcum on her nose. Crookes held Katie’s hand, felt her pulse, took her temperature and sounded her lungs. She was, he gravely announces, a perfect imitation of a rather agreeable young woman. But that she actually was a young woman—sneaked into his house, let us say, by the fair Miss Cook—he vigorously denies. Her heartbeat was the heartbeat of a ghost. The talcum on her nose was unearthly.

This story is the one best bet of the psychical researchers. They can produce nothing else even remotely approaching it in wonder, authenticity and splendor, for Crookes, who stands for it, is their Huxley. If it is true, their case is won without further testimony being taken. But if it is not true, the greatest man in their camp—the stalwart upon whose academic coruscations and gigantic intellect their case hangs—is an absurd ass. Read Mr. Rider’s very readable book and decide for yourself.

Mark Twain’s argument that Shakespeare did not write the Shakespearean plays is based upon the fact that little authentic information about the Bard has come down to us. If Shakespeare had really done the work himself, says Mark, instead of merely lending his name to some other man, his contemporaries would have recognized him as a great man, and would have been at pains to seek him out, talk to him and leave records of his acts and opinions. As it is, we have only a few facts about his parentage and a few obscure entries in the court papers of Stratford and London.

Assuming that this statement of the historical material at hand is correct— which it is not—the fallacy of the author’s reasoning must yet be plain. All that he proves, indeed, is that the majority of Shakespeare’s contemporaries were densely blind to his enormous genius. They regarded him, perhaps, as a successful theatrical manager and an ingenious maker of stage plays, but that he was a world figure and one with Aeschylus and Solomon never occurred to them. If it had, they would have sought him out; and if it had appeared that he was not the real author of the plays he claimed, they would have sought out that real author. In a word, the absence of contemporary news of Shakespeare proves only the absence of contemporary appreciation.

Those friends of the poet who were capable of formulating some notion of his true stature—such men as Johnson, Heminge and Condell—were in no doubt as to his reality and honesty. Their testimony is direct and specific; they say that he wrote the plays credited to him. And it is certainly safe to suppose that they knew, for they met him almost daily. They saw the prompt books of his theater, with his autograph corrections; they were his intimates; they paid tribute to him when he died. That the testimony of these men is to be rebutted by the fact that the tradesmen of Stratford did not recognize the Immortal in their midst is an absurdity.

Mr. Clemens’s book, indeed, makes sorry reading for those who hold him in reverence. He is, by great odds, the most noble figure America has ever given to English literature. Having him, we may hold up our heads when Spaniards boast of Cervantes and Frenchmen of Moliere. His one book, “Huckleberry Finn,” is worth, I believe, the complete works of Poe, Hawthorne, Cooper, Holmes, Howells and James, with the entire literary output to date of Indiana, Pennsylvania and all the States south of the Potomac thrown in as makeweight. But since “Following the Equator,” his decline has been almost pathetic. Once a great artist, he is now merely a public character. He has gone the road of Wycherley: the old humanity and insight have given place to the smartness of the town wit. Let us try to forget this latter-day Mark Twain, with his pot boilers and his wheezes, and remember only the incomparable Mark Twain that was—and will be through the ages—just as we try to forget that the Thackeray who wrote “Barry Lyndon” also wrote “Lovell the Widower,” and that the Shakespeare who wrote “Much Ado About Nothing” wrote also “Cymbeline.”

In the case of young Mr. MacKaye the same sort of charity is demanded. The author is our foremost living dramatic poet, and we must never cease to be grateful to him for his exquisite unacted comedy of “The Canterbury Pilgrims.” He has got the true spirit of old Dan Chaucer into it; it bubbles over with the joy of life. But a writer of dramas is not always a good dramatic critic. Henry Arthur Jones gave us proof of that when he printed “The Renascence of the English Drama.” There is abundant additional proof—and it is well rubbed in—in Mr. MacKaye’s “ The Playhouse and the Play.”

The book is made up, in the main, of addresses delivered before various universities, and all of them urge the establishment of an endowed theater. I have not space enough to consider Mr. MacKaye’s arguments in detail, and few of them, indeed, are worth the trouble. They are, with almost no exception, ponderously sophomoric and unconvincing. They read like the solemn banalities of a college professor. They are unsound in premise and ridiculous in conclusion. Obvious facts are announced with a quite comic air of profundity, and after announcing them and rolling them, as it were, on his tongue for a space, the author proceeds to make them fit his theories. His style, in its elephantine vacuity, mirrors his logic. It gives the finishing touch of bombast to the book.

Let Mr. MacKaye return to his play making. We stand in need of the excellent plays he knows how to write, but we can well spare his dramatic criticism. Were it not that I have respect for the well-earned preeminence of the venerable William Winter, I should call him the most vapid, platitudinous and tiresome dramatic critic that the Anglo-Saxon race has yet produced.

“The Fabian Essays in Socialism” is the most ingenious and entertaining of all Socialist text-books. Here we have a tract written, not by beery walking delegates and professional agitators, but by men and women of education, humor, resourcefulness, plausibility and literary skill. The introductory essay by George Bernard Shaw is alone worth the price of admission. In all the two hundred or more pages there is scarcely a dull line. But that the book will make a Socialist of you, unless you are already infected by the loathsome bacilli, I gravely doubt. It will convince you, you may be sure, that Socialism would make a lot of people happy, but it will also impress upon you that Socialism would heap its richest benefits, not upon the most valuable men, but upon those men whose right to life and liberty is contested today by the constable, the turnkey, the hangman and the vigilance committee.

From the press of L. C. Page & Co. come four unconventional and attractive books of travel. Two of them deal with Italy, one with Egypt and one with Wales. They are all models of artistic book making, and all four have many illustrations.

The most pretentious of the quartet is Mrs. Caroline Atwater Mason’s “The Spell of Italy.” Here we have, not a guide book, but a record of the impressions of an alert and sympathetic traveler. Mrs. Mason sees beyond the mere monuments and show places of the Peninsula, and she has skill enough to make her discoveries interesting and delightful. Not the least valuable feature of her book is its frequent discussion of other books of and about the country, both from native and from foreign pens. Altogether, her chapters must inevitably add much to the enjoyment of an American visiting Italy for the first time.
A good companion volume is “Italian Highways and Byways from a Motor Car,” by that indefatigable wanderer, Francis Miltoun. Mr. Miltoun is chiefly concerned with the very practical matters of road metal, grade and hotel accommodation, but he pauses often to point out a beautiful prospect or a tumbling ruin. He is ready with curious lore about the old Roman highways, and he has suggestions for all sorts of tours, long and short. A number of maps and diagrams help to make the way plain, and there are many artistic drawings in color and black and white.

What Mr. Miltoun does for Italy, Mrs. Rodolph Stawell does for Wales in “Motor Tours in Wales and the Border Counties.” Mrs. Stawell’s directions to the motorist are simple and specific. She knows the principality thoroughly, from Carnarvon to Cardiff, and her book is an agreeable combination of guide book, road map and history. Even though one may harbor neither hope nor intention of touring Wales in a devil wagon, the pages slip by most agreeably.

The volume on Egypt is “From Cairo to the Cataract,” by Blanche M. Carson. As a matter of fact, the author begins her story with her departure from New York, and there are stops at Paris and in Italy before she begins the slow journey by steamer up the grandfather of navigable streams. It is a journey broken by frequent stops and by a host of amusing incidents and encounters. One meets tourists of a multitude of nationalities, and one sees them all in the grasp of the avaricious fellaheen. And at the end there is an excellent brief summary of Egypt’s endless history, and a list of the multitude of Egyptian kings. Fifty full-page illustrations really illustrate the text.

A book of numerous merits is Mrs. Theodosia Garrison’s new collection of verse, “The Joy of Life” (Kennerley, $1.00). As the title indicates, Mrs. Garrison’s philosophy is that which must inevitably mark the true lyric poet. Unless one acquiesces in life, song is impossible. Its very existence presupposes a delight in the very fact of existence. This delight one discovers in even the least gay of the author’s stanzas; hers, indeed, is a Tudor vision, alert to every bird call and patch of green. Nothing more nearly perfect than her “Petition of Idleness” has appeared in America since Robert Loveman’s early songs. And Loveman is her superior only on occasion. Considering the general average of her work—and what an indefatigable worker she is!—she has no superior among us.

Socialism vs. Christianity—
by Edward R. Hartman.
(Cochrane, $1.50)
An elaborate attempt to prove that the Socialists are heretics. Inasmuch as the majority of them admit it and are proud of it, the utility of Mr. Hartman’s labor appears obscure.

The Ring and the Man—
by Cyrus Townsend Brady.
(Moffatt-Yard, $1.50)
A story of love and politics, told in Mr. Brady’s facile manner. It throws no new light upon the problems of existence, but it has abundant movement.

Love’s Privilege—
by Stella M. During.
(Lippincott, $1.50)
A tale of mystery, full of naive, amateurish touches, but not without its thrills.

by F. E. Mills Young.
(Lane, $1.50)
The story of a young English girl who goes out to South Africa disguised as a man and becomes partner to an immoral ranchman.When he discovers her deception, she departs at a gallop, but later she marries him.

The Winning Chance—
by Elizabeth Dejeans.
(Lippincott, $1.50)
Here we behold the difficulties and temptations which beset a poor “business girl” in a large city.
The Mystery of Miss Motte—
by Caroline Atwater Mason.
(Page, $1.50)
A placid and harmless little story, dealing much with missionaries and states of soul. Its heroine carries with her something of the haunting charm of the East.

The Hawk—
by Ronald Legge.
(McBride, $1.50)
A rip-snorting yarn about a war in the air. The style suggests both Jules Verne and Old Cap Collier.

The Woman in Question—by John Reed Scott.
(Lippincott, $1.50)
A briskly written romance, full of talkative, entertaining persons, and with a flavor of mystery. A decidedly good example of the summer novel.

A Gentleman of Quality—
by Frederic van R. Dey.
(Page, $1.50)
A tale of mystery, with an American hero who is mistaken for a lost English earl and forced to take the latter’s place in the world. The story is better than the telling of it.

The Rule of Three—
by Alma Martin Estabrook.
(Small-Maynard, $1.25)
A sprightly little comic opera without music. A young man, urged to reluctant matrimony by a rich aunt, induces a girl to pose as his wife—and then, of course, falls in love with her.

The Other Side of the Door—
by Lucia Chamberlain.
(Bobbs-Merrill, $1.50)
A mildly diverting tale of adventure, with the scene laid in early San Francisco, and a fiery Latin flavor in some of the characters.

Merely Players—
by Virginia Tracy.
(Century Co., $1.50) A collection of short stories about stage folks. Insight and color are in the worst of them, and the best, “In August,” is excellent.

The Story of the Great Lakes—
by Edward Channing and M. F. Lansing.
(Macmillan, $1.50) A workmanlike presentation of an unfamiliar chapter of American history. Entertaining from cover to cover.

Nora Conough—
by W. G. Henderson.
(Outing Pub. Co., $1.50)
A romance of Australian ranch life, full of exotic color. It is not a masterpiece, but its novelty will give grateful relief to habitual readers of current American fiction.

The City of Splendid Night—
by John W. Harding.
(Dillingham, $1.50)
A story obviously designed to be “powerful.” If the author had a sense of humor he would strain for effects less comically.

Kingsmead by Bettina von Hutton.
(Dodd-Mead, $1.50) Once more we meet the delightful Pam—now “very gray, but not grown old.” The author has lost none of her charming humor, and those who enjoyed “Pam” and “Pam Decides” will find the present volume a worthy successor.

by Frank Danby (Mrs. Frankau).
(Macmillan, $1.50)
A curious study of mother love. The mother’s vain attempt to mold her son to her ideal ends in a complete overthrow of that ideal. A story deftly written, and only occasionally incredible.

The Chrysalis—
by Harold Morton Kramer.
(Lothrop, $1.50)
The story of a football game which plays a part in a Presidential contest, and of certain interestingWestern adventures that follow. A satisfactory book for an idle afternoon.

The Girl and the Bill—
by Bannister Merwin.
(Dodd-Mead, $1.50)
A rattling yarn of diplomatic intriguing and love making, with characters that range from Chicago thugs to the gentleman twice removed from the Presidency. Entirely incredible, but vastly entertaining.


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