Email this review


A good deal has happened since this was reported on P. 490-Sept. 15th issue. First, a meticulous editing job, under the supervision of Mr. Hutchinson himself, has sharpened up many of the parts of the novel that seemed to us discursive and lacking in clarity... Second, the Book of the Month has selected this for February. Hence our report is repeated only in part, as the novel in its final form lives up to our high hopes for Mr. Hutchinson over years of following him with keen appreciation...This novel could be viewed from several angles. It might be looked upon as another Knock on Any Door in a study of a London slum, and the effect of environment on character -- a sordid, sultry study of the attempt to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Or it might be viewed as kin to Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men- a compassionate analysis of a youth whose strength was greater than he knew, whose love for the helpless handicapped could be expressed only in service. Or it could be likened to the popular stories of thwarted, possessive women, determined to control the lives of those closest to them- and destroying what they thought to mold. It is all of these -- and establishes an obsessive claim on one's interest. The story is set in the frame of a murder. A woman, once beautiful, is dead -- and her husband, twice accused of murder or intent to murder, is convicted, and dies on the gallows. The story in between is that of an incredible marriage made credible. A girl, gently born and disappointed in the man she was to have married, flaunts her self-sacrifice and marries a boy of the slums, convinced that she can remake him to her pattern. In the process, she spurns the help she might have had from Elizabeth, a woman whom she thought had wronged her, and Trevon, head of a settlement, living out a penance of his sex-ridden youth. She destroys everything she might have had, even, in an agony of hate, the happiness of her daughter. At times, there are phases of the development that fail to ring true; at times, the woman seems a lay figure. But always, the husband, with his own strange but rather beautiful code, is handled with tender understanding. A book that deserves to be read.

Pub Date: Jan. 20th, 1949
ISBN: 1104839857
Publisher: Rinehart