Sunday, 29 March 2009

John Fitzhenry - a Mills and Boon Novel (1920)

Following on from the Valentine's Day post about romantic novels containing characters called Fitzhenry, here's another.
The rather acidic review comes from the satirical English journal "Punch" (July 28th 1920). I wasn't aware that Mills and Boon had been publishing for so long...

John Fitzhenry (Mills and Boon) is one of those pleasant stories about people who live in big country houses, a subject that seems to have a particular attraction for the large and ungrudging public which lives in villas.
We have already several novelists who tell them very ably, and I feel that some one among them has served as Miss Ella MacMahon's model. The tale deals with the affairs of a showy fickle cousin and a silent constant cousin who compete for the love of the same delightful if rather nebulous young woman, and moves to its dénouement, against a background of the great War, which Miss MacMahon has very sensibly decided to view entirely from the home front.
It contains some fine thinking and some bad writing (the phrase telling of the middle-aged smart woman who "waved her foot impatiently" gives a just idea of the author's occasional inability to say what she means), some quite extraneous incidents and some scenes very well touched in. The people, with a few exceptions, are of the race which inhabits this sort of book, and, as we have long agreed with our novelists that "the county" is just like that, I don't see why Miss MacMahon should be blamed for it.
They've read it for us, so we don't have to. Marvellous.

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