WHITE LION by Gerard Bell (Hutchinson, 12s. 6d.).
"WHITE Lion," dismissed by one of the leading Sunday papers as "nonsense." seems to me a remarkable little book.. It turns on the problem of a film director, brought up as a Catholic. who falls in love with a girl whom he later finds to be Jewish. ' But this is only the beginning of what is the search of a soul for the pattern and purpose of life. The characters arc drawn with great power and delicacy, especially the priest (how few priests in novels even begin to be convincing!) with his great, bellowing laugh that hides a deep sensitivity.
The expedition in search of the mysterious white lion (the story moves from London to the wilds of Kenya), described with all the nightmare horror of hour after hour of thirst and scorching sun, is the culmination of a book that deserves to be remembered if only wforritthecolour and the poetry of its writing.
Unfortunate Choice Unfortunate Choice
THE LETTERS OF NICODEMUS, by Jan Dobraczynski (Heinemann, 18s.).
I WAS prepared to like "1 he Let
ters of Nicodemus." a book by a Polish wfiter of some distincton and one which has commanded considerable attention in his own country. I have to confess, however, to disappointment. 'The truth, perhaps, is that, with regard to the life of Our Lord, the Gospels have told all that is to be told with such perfection and such simplicity that any attempt to enlarge on this cannot seem much else than a " hash-up " of the New Testament with the addition of cumbersome padding. Jan Dobraczynski can write, but his choice of subject has proved unfortunate.
End of a cycle
THE CITY AND THE DREAM, by Ernest Raymond (Cassell, 16s.).
cLERKENWELL-once a place of holiness, where the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem founded their Grand Priory, but later swamped by an expanding city with its tenements, shops, foundries and distilleries-is the scene of the novel that brings to a satisfying conclusion Ernest Raymond's cycle of 16 stories. begun 23 years ago, portraying the many aspects of London life during the past halfcentury.
THE CROCODILE TREMBLES, by John Deane Potter (Michael Joseph, I8s.).
THE. ONE TALENT, by John Goldthorpe (Cassell, 13s. 6d.).
AFORMER paratroop major finds himself A.D.C. to the governor of a Pacific island which is under British rule but leased to the Americans as a naval base. Bored with the petty round of official life, he volunteers to parachute into the mountains in the hope of tracing a desperate band of Japanese left over from the war raennddeirg.noring all appeals to sur Almost immediately on landing he is taken prisoner. Instead of being tortured or put to death, as he had supposed, he is entertained by the commander of the Japanese troops and subsequently falls in love with a girl called Ito who is the second-in-command.
I could not make up my mind whether the author had failed to bring his main character to life, or whether (which is perhaps more likely) Peter Darnell is meant to be one of those Englishmen who, in fact, never does seem alive. But would a man of this kind, one wonders. have been ready to sacrifice his career to marry a Japanese girl? Anyway, the book is entertaining, and the Japanese and some Indian servants far the most interesting people in it. The descriptions of the jungle arc good. If there is some doubt as to whether Peter Darnell is alive, there is not the-slightest doubt that Carolus Zoltan. the aloof, friendless surgeon and obstetrician of St. Jude's Hospital and the hero of John Goldthorpe's latest novel, is stone dead. This is a pity, as the theme-that of a brilliant doctor, who takes what he believes to be a justifiable risk, being taken to court for criminal neglect-is one of compelling and topical interest.
Poverty in Italy
ORIGINAL SIN, by Close Rimanelli (Heinemann, 15s.).
SOMETHING TO LOVE. by Francis Clifford (Famish Hamilton, 13s. 6d.).
IN "Original Sin" Giose Rimanclli gives a picture of desperate unemployment and grinding poverty in a village of the Abruzzi in southern Italy-in particular, the struggles and family tragedies that are the lot of Nicola Vieti who, unlike many of his fellow-villagers, has managed to get a permit to emigrate to America. It is a story of violence and terror, told with sincerity and compassion. but also with brutal " realism." " Something to Love ", also set in Italy, is in a light vein. A young American doctor returning for a brief visit to a village, in which he attended the wounded during the war, finds the place the same and not the same. He is involved in the conquences of a grudge borne against him by a youth since the days of the war. Also, much against the grain, he has to help the parish priest to sort out an occurrence which may or may not prove to be a miracle. The book has the great virtue of moving quickly and being written in precise, clear-cut prose.
Crossword No. 505
Prizewinners. First prize, one guinea; Miss W. Chappell, I.ondon, N.R. Second prize, a book: Mr. R. W. Barratt, Truro, Cornwall.