PEN TO PAPER, by Pamela Franklin (Heinemann, Ills.).
A SEVERED HEAD, by Iris Murdoch (Chatto & Wind us, 18s.).
YOUNG MAN IN CHAINS, by Francois Manlier (Eyre & Spottiswoode, 15s.).
SEASONS OF MISTS, by Honor Tracy (Methuen, 15s.).
I WAS interested to see from X Miss Frankau's book that she never reads her reviews; it tempts one to say something really outrageously rude and inaccurate about "Pen to Paper" just to see what happens. I am sure, however, that she has many faithful readers who do reed her reviews to take up cudgels on t her behal: and in any case this is far too rich and amusing a book with which to play such tricks. It is really a personal statement about the way Miss Frankau writes.
IT has always surprised me that I so intelligent a novelist should. lately at any rate and Miss Frankau herself says never, have hit the bestseller list. Perhaps it is the way she writes somehow dwarfs the people and things she writes about; one is too conscious of a bright ironic presence just out of the picture.
In " Pen to Paper" she is, of course, writing as herself and about herself and the picture of how she goes to work praiducing one of those intelligent, informed, but in some way just off the popular key, novels is fascinating.
IN two drafts each hand-written, the one drink taken just at the psychological moment to speed the evening's work along, the joyful triumph at writing the lovely words "THE END ", the tiresomeness of publishers who won't understand the difference between " grey " and " gray", the awfulness of other people who drag one out to dinner Just as one is setting down to a really vital page . It is to Miss Frankau's credit that despite all this she makes the whole thing seem relatively painless. In fact it is just as though one of the intelligent, wen-dressed witty people she puts in her novels were describing how they would write a book. r ve lower, this is hardly Miss Frankau's fault. in Lae eau, in all hooks by writers about wilting, the seed of creative
hi impulse which is the heart of the matter defies analysis.
I N the light of Miss Frankau's book, it is interesting to examine Iris Murdoch's new novel ,,A Severed Head". Miss Murdoch is, One feels, a writer who takes her own writing with passionate seriousness and she is an automatic sell-out among the intelligentsia.
This particular specimen is a ferocious fable which might be based on the jingle: " There was a lover and his lass. with a her and a ha and a heymn 'ay rto 'ay rto the " nanny F10. S " dying off into hideous echoes. Martin Lynch Gibbon is happily established with a loving and beautiful wife aid a gamine and undemanding mistress, The former is undergoing
a lecturer at analysis; the latter is a lecturer at analysis; the latter is the London School of Economics. His relationship with each depends profoundly on his relationship with the other.
THE fable starts when his wife leaves him for her psychoanalysist. Between them they take over Martin' life and his relationship with his mistresa. The cool horror of the events which ensue might in less skilful hands have seemed merely melodramatic alid repetitive; as described by Miss Murdoch they set up an endless jangling reverberation which persists long after the book is closed.
"YOUNG MAN IN CHAINS" X was Mauriac's first novel; it is almost the last in the series now being produced by Eyre and Spottiswoode.
I found it more readable than many of the later ones; there is less preoccupation with evil itself and more with the effect of evil upon the character.
Honor Tracy TIONOR TRACY'S "A Season XX of Mists " is about a rich art dealer who falls in love with his