18 December 1920

18 December 1920

Villa Isola Bella, Menton, France

Reader! We are the forlorn guest on these occasions. We are that strange-looking person over in the corner who seems so out of everything and never will mix properly. Spare your knitting-needle; put up your paper-knife, sir. Do not stab us. It is not our fault that we look grim. It isn't pleasant to be bored. Will you believe us when we say we love smiling, we love to be amused? We always think, until faced by these occasions, that it takes too little to make us smile. But there is an atmosphere of bright chatter, of quick, animated glare which is warm South to Mr Benson and his admirers while it freezes our risible folds.

... I had been asked by telephone just at luncheon-time as I was sitting down to a tough and mournful omelette alone, and I naturally felt quite certain that I had been bidden to take the place of some guest.

Or listen to the ‘adorable Agnes Lockett';

... If Mrs Withers had told me any more of what the great ones of the earth said to her in confidence, I should either have gone mad or taken up a handful of those soft chocolates and rubbed her face with them.

But it is perhaps hardly fair to take to pieces what the author himself calls ‘digestible snacks'. This, we venture to suggest, should have been the title of the volume. And would it not be an admirable idea if there were a covering title for stories of the author's own description? ‘Snacks' for instance, could hardly be improved upon. ‘Digestible Snacks' is illuminating; it tells us exactly what we are buying. [KM's review of The Countess of Lowndes Square and Other Stories by E. F. Benson; Just Open by W. Pett Ridge; A Man of the Islands, by H. de Vere Stacpoole, in the Athenaeum, 26 November 1920.]