02 August

2 August 1920

2 Portland Villas, Hampstead - London

 [. . .] The publication of a new edition of Esther Waters provides an opportunity for seeking to understand this curious small problem. It is generally agreed that this novel is the best he has written, and the author himself has expressed his delight in it - ‘the book that among all other books I should have cared most to write, and to have written it so much better than I ever dreamed it could be written'. Esther Waters is, on the face of it, a model novel. Having read it carefully and slowly - we defy anyone to race along or skip - from cover to cover, we are left feeling that there is not a page, paragraph, sentence, word, that is not the right, the only possible page, paragraph, sentence, word. The more we look into it, the more minute our examination, the deeper grows our amazement at the amount of sheer labour that has gone to its execution. Nothing from: ‘She stood on the platform watching the receding train', until the last pale sentence, the last quiet closing chord is taken for granted. How is it possible for Mr George Moore to have gained such precise knowledge of the servants' life in Esther's first place unless he disguised himself as a kitchen-maid and plunged his hands into the cauliflower water? There is not a detail of the kitchen and pantry life at Woodview that escapes his observation; the description of the bedroom shared by Esther and the housemaid Margaret is as complete as though the author were preparing us for some sordid crime to be committed there. And this intensely scrupulous method, this dispassionate examination is continued without a break in the even flow of the narrative. [. . .] [. . .] [Review of Esther Waters by George MooreAthenaeum, 6 August 1920]