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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 8 (November 2, 1936)



“More Maoriland Adventures,” by J. W. Stack (A. H. & A. W. Reed, Dunedin), should be assured of a warm welcome by virtue of the success attending the first volume, “Early Maoriland Adventures.” A portion of the latest book concerns the adventures page break of the author on his return to England. Anybody who may have fears that the adventures and attitude towards life of a youth who later on was to become a missionary may be on the tame side, will have such concern immediately swept aside on reading these opening chapters. Bless you! At the age of twelve, the future missionary was furling the main royal on a tiny barque as it sailed the stormy seas on its way to England. Also read how the author visited a London “Sporting Club” some ninety years ago! I was pleased to note the reference to Victorian intolerance. In later chapters we find the author back in New Zealand and the recital loses none of its interest on this account. The book, which has been carefully edited by Mr. A. H. Reed, has been nicely produced.

“Inheritance,” by Brian Penton (Angus and Robertson, Sydney) is a sequel to “Landtakers,” published about two years ago. It is a stronger, better written book than “Landtakers,” not that this is any reflection on the first book. It is just that Penton has since emerged as a powerful novelist. Although I admire the power of the book, it depressed me with the grim tragedy that stalks through its pages. It is not a cheerful book. If it is true to life, then God help those unfortunate folk in Australia who lived during that period. Were the men, and the women too, of that time little better than beasts? It is not a good book for young people to read. Forgetting all this, however, and looking at this book as a piece of literary architecture, Brian Penton may be placed as one of the greatest novelists ever produced by Australia.

Derek Cabell haunts every page of the story like an arch demon. We hate him just a little more than his illomened brood of children. Murder, violence, lust, rapine and degradation are the ingredients of their life history. Cabell piles up his illgotten millions, loading his shoulders with their evil weight. And he dies, as he lived, defying everybody, even his God.

“There's A Porpoise Close Behind Us,” by Noel Langley (Arthur Barker, London; Whitcombe & Tombs, Ltd., New Zealand agents), is an ultra modern novel of the London stage. It is only the cleverness and sheer audacity of the author that prevents the unpalatable nature of the plot from becoming positively nauseous. By way of excuse for opening up a sewer of sex abnormality, Mr. Langley produces several normal healthy folk holding their noses and gazing in disgust down at the sewer people of his creation. While there are green trees about and a blue sky above, however, the healthy ones remain healthy—thank goodness! I trust, however, that the author's story of the life and habits of the people of the London theatrical world is not by any chance founded on fact. I would like to see his admittedly brilliant pen dipped in more wholesome ink.

“Let's Go Home,” by Dr. Noble-Adams (H. Duckworth, Blenheim), is a breezy account of the author's journey to England for the late King's Jubilee and of his return via the Continent. There is no pretence at fine writing, in fact the author displays a very thorough knowledge of current slang. For this reason the book should have a wide appeal. The author is a watchful observer of the manners and modes of the various cities visited, has a lively sense of humour and a capacity for recording interesting detail. The book is nicely illustrated and well produced.

“The Principles of Treatment for Diabetic Patients,” by H. Bolydon Ewen (A. H. & A. W. Reed, Dunedin and Wellington), is utterly beyond me as a reviewer. I have great confidence, however, in the innate conscientiousness of the publishers.