The Selective Traveller in Portugal. By Ann Bridge and Susan Lowndes. (Evans. 21s.)
Reviewed by FR. MARTINDALE
BOW often, during pilgrimages I to Rome, we have watched the devout but drooping visitors being made to see a dozen different churches all practically alike and staring with dulled eyes at a number of perfectly black pictures allegedly by some famous artist! Their guides didn't know how to select. This " Guide " contains an immense amount of information. yet it allows you to omit. and paints pictures of what you ought to see with such vivacity that you will never miss a point if you go to the actual places, and find even reading the book almost as amusing as a, novel. We might have expected this from Lady O'Malley who made herself famous by the novel's written under her maidenname: she is the wife of an exambassador and has seen half the world and has also seen the point of what she looked at and has unerringly indicated it. Not that she sticks it into you like a pin. but bathes it in the atmosphere of the country concerned till you both breathe easily and are exhilarated. And the atmosphere of Portugal is SO soft and yet so brisk: the people so polite and yet so jovial ! This might not be quite true of the windswept and south; but few travellers are likely to go there—a pity ! Susan Lowndes is of course the daughter of Mrs. Belloc Lowndes and the niece of Hilaire Belloc him self; so that you expect from her not only a literary sense, but acute observation. Yet so perfectly in harmony are the two authoresses that you cannot dissect the book as they did the Old Testament and mark one passage "B" and another " L." However, I rather think that Ann Bridge is responsible for the pages on the Portuguese islands.
The maps are quite admirable-they enable you to get anywhere you like. and to know what sort of road to expect—and road-building is one of the miracles of modern Portugal. The book is not propagandist : but you cannot read it without being Conscious of the resurrection of a land and a race, after the appalling misrule—free-mason, atheist, corrupt— that prevailed between 1910 and 1926. And the whole spirit of the book is Catholic. Naturally, since it is for every class of reader, you do not expect it to dilate on Fatima. but enough is said to orientate the ideas of any visitor in the right direction, and after all, there are a score of books on Fatima as such.
We must congratulate the firm of Evans Brothers on having published a book which will be indispensable for anyone lucky enough to go to Portugal—in fact, without doubt the standard guide-book, which shows us the historical background of a living race and its character; of which the word-pictures are as ex-1 cellent as the many photographs, which is saying a lot.