The manner and not the manner of this now Walpole novel detracts from its ranking higher in the Walpole repertoire. It purports to be the life of a writer, whose ambitions turn towards plays and serious fiction, while his talents lie in exquisite fairy tales. Dits of the story are told as though Cornelius was telling his own tale; other bits are contributed by the author, either in the guise of a friend and been companion, or in the guise of detached biographer. The result is a loss of focus, though at the end, the whole fits into place and the complete pattern of a strangely rooted, strangely motivated life is evident. Familiar background in the boyhood spent in Polohester's Seaman's Row; familiar characters in passing mention of the Duchess of Wroge, Peter Westcott and the Trenchards -- all of which gives popular flavour and a nostalgic quality to the Walpole novels. The character of John Cornelius is as fine a bit of portraiture as Walpole has given us for some time.