16 June

16 June 1920

2 Portland Villas, Hampstead - London

But when Mrs Carswell's novel has been taken down from its small particular eminence and examined apart we must write more warily. Open the Door, which is an extremely long novel - it has four hundred pages, that is about one hundred and eighty thousand words - is an account of the coming of age of a young Scottish girl. By coming of age we mean, in this case, the moment when Life ceases to be master, but, recognizing that the pupil has learned all that is needful, gives her her freedom, that she may, in turn, give it to the man who holds her happiness in his keeping. So, from the age of thirteen to the age of thirty, we find ourselves - how is it best expressed? - in the company of Joanna Bannerman, her family, her friends and her lovers. We are told of the influences that hold back or help to unfold the woman in her; her thoughts, feelings and emotions are described with untiring sympathy and skill: but how much, when all is said and done, do we really know of her? How clearly is she a living creature to our imagination? She is receptive, easily led, fond of the country, especially fond of birds, pools, heather, the seasons and their change, and, since she is almost constantly aware of her physical being, her sexual desires are strong. [Review of Open the Door by Catherine Carswell, Athenaeum, 25 June 1920]