This book length turn on the Variety stage during the year 1913-1914 is based ostensibly on the diaries of one Richard Herncastle as assistant to his Uncle Nick, a saturnine figure (or ""real old Nick"") who had a successful illusionist act. It is a rather poky, talky novel, an itinerary of towns, theatres and digs, and also of young Richard's first exposures to a good many women, freer in this ambience than they might have been otherwise. There's Cissie Mapes, with a pretty, tarty sexiness, who belongs to Uncle Nick until he throws her out; Nonie Colmar, even more flagrantly inviting; Julie Blane, an older woman, who initiates him in her ""Oriental garden of deeply sexual sensuality"" and then abandons him; and, always in the background, Nancy, whom he will meet again and marry at the end of the year with his enlistment in the Army. Priestley's novel, while amiable in tone and authentic enough in character, still drags its feet across the stage and only scuffs up a little dust in the wings of the old Variety halls. Its appeal will reside in its nostalgic carryover and it may be stronger than indicated here.