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Books: While, When, Since

2 minute read

DEAD LOVERS ARE FAITHFUL LOVERS— Frances Newman—Boni & Liveright ($2.50). Curiously enough this book is not tedious. The first half concerns itself with the gold negligees, white ribbons, and creamy laces a pre-war Southern bride arranges for the retention of her husband’s physical affections; the second half with the green hats, coral gowns, and visceral sensations of the girl who, ten years later, falls heir to those affections. Not that he, a chivalrous Southern gentleman, would involve her in an illicit relation, but as soon as his established reputation as rail-road president permits of a divorce. . . . Fortunately for his wife, he dies before she finds evidence for her perpetual suspicions, and she is able to wear “victorious” widow’s weeds, rather than the dreaded badge of Reno.

This is a strangely old-fashioned situation for so strikingly modern an analysis of emotions. No realistic detail is omitted. Her refusal to omit from any given sentence any possible detail has indeed made Author Newman’s style more or less famous (The Hard-boiled Virgin). Hardly a sentence but begins with a while or a when or a since, and balances itself to lengthy conclusion. Literary critic of some merit (The Short Story’s Mutations), she undoubtedly knows better, so the diagnosis is reduced to that of affectation.

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