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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 5 (August 1, 1935)



“Ambition's Harvest,” Nelle Scanlan's sixth novel is here. It is her best book to date. I felt that Miss Scanlan was tiring herself with her super industry, for it is something of an achievement to have written six long novels in five years, and to sandwich in between thousands of miles of travelling. However, it seems that this remarkable woman thrives on her intense activity—proved by her latest book. Her characters grow more interesting—they live. Her genius as a journalist is building up her promise as a writer. This is from the technical viewpoint, for, right from the start, Miss Scanlan succeeded in the way all publishers like most of all—she captured the general reading public. I understand that few novels have sold in this country as have Miss Scanlan's. Publishers' receipts are going to be a record with “Ambition's Harvest.” The story itself is engrossing. Mary Merridge, the restless and temperamental heroine, develops as the story proceeds into a lovable, vital character. The linking of her life from childhood with the interesting Harley Ross provides the love theme of the book. The portrait of Mary's father in the earlier pages is one of the strongest character portrayals Miss Scanlan has given us. The story moves from New Zealand to America, on to England and the Continent. The author's journalistic intuitions never permit her to let the interest flag. She has never written an uninteresting line for the press, and she has the same thoughtful regard for her novel-reading public. This is the secret of Miss Scanlan's success. Her pictures of club and middle class social life in America as revealed in her heroine's adventures there, are interesting and intimate. Jarrold's (London) are, once more, her publishers.

“The Forefront of the Battle,” by Andrew Loring (Angus & Robertson, Sydney), which originally ran through the “Australian Woman's Mirror” as a serial, appears now in book form. This is fortunate, for otherwise an engrossing novel would have been lost to the big majority of men readers. It is a book for a train journey, which is a compliment to the author, for we all know that a novel must have an unflagging interest to hold attention in the train. Politics, adventure, intrigue and love are the main ingredients of a story that is crowded with incident. The sort of novel a bookseller can recommend to every reader, which again is another big compliment to the author. Price, 4/6.

The activities of the Dunedin publishing house of A. H. & A. W. Reed have given another most valuable addition to the shelves of our New Zealand historical library in the recently published “Early Maoriland Adventures of J. W. Stack.” Mr. A. H. Reed, who edits this most interesting collection of manuscripts, discovered their existence only recently. With admirable thoroughness he has built up his book with a wealth of added detail supplied by such prominent New Zealand writers as Messrs. Johannes Andersen, Alan Mulgan, J. T. Paul and others. The late Canon Stack was born in a Maori pa in 1835, and died in 1919. He gives a vivid picture of the early days in New Zealand. He covered the remote portions of the North Island, sometimes by hazardous journeys overland, sometimes by sea in schooner or whale-boat. In the ‘fifties he went to Sydney and London, returning by way of Port Chalmers. There is such a mass of vital incident in the Stack manuscripts that it will have to be followed by succeeding volumes. The first book (and any collector who boasts of the New Zealand section of his library cannot afford to be without it) sells at 7/6.

Whitcombe & Tombs have produced a revised and enlarged edition of that most interesting historical narrative, “The Story of the Pacific.” It is a triumph of condensation to compress such an interesting history into a book of 150 pages, yet it is done here, from 1513 to 1935, clearly, intelligently and with detail adequate for the purposes of such a handbook. The work is illustrated and sells at the modest price of 2/6.