21 December 1920

21 December 1920

Villa Isola Bella, Menton, France

The only episode that arrested our attention in this book was when Sigurdson saw the front end of Pilcher down on the coral, scrabbling along on its hands like a crab.
He'd been bitten off below the waist by a shark that had took him just as a child takes a piece of candy and bites it in two!
What a degradation is this when nothing less fearful will draw us to the ship's side! As to that slender dark girl with the scarlet hibiscus flower behind her ear and her hand lifted in the familiar ‘Come to Motuaro' gesture - she makes us almost inclined to signal ‘full steam ahead' for the opposite direction. It is not enough to know that the fate of that great, strong man lay in those small, scented hands. What did he feel about it? Did he feel anything? Did they talk together? What did they share? How was his love for her different from his love for a white girl? ... Or, if the question is all of the scenery, let us feel the strangeness of it. Sigurdson is a Dane. Did he have more of the feelings of an exile? Here, indeed, is our whole point about coral islands, dark blue seas and crescent beaches pale as the new moon. We will not be put off with pictures any longer. We ask that someone should discover the deeper strangeness for us, so that our imagination is not allowed to go starving while our senses are feasted.

[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.]