POPE ST. PlfUS X, by F. A. Forbes (Burns Oates, 5s.).
IT is not often that one has the exact answer to the question : "Can YOU recommend a good brief accurate and cheap life of the new saint?" But for the Pope of the People so recently canonised we have this life of St_ Pius X, by F. A. Forbes, in a paper-covered edition, newly revised, at the very reasonable price-in view of book prices generally-of 5s., which is indeed the answer, Three editions of this most attractive little life of St. Pius were published within six years of its first appearance in 1918. That is not surprising since it tells the story of the poor boy of Riese, the curate of Tombolo, the parish priest of Sateen°. the Bishop of Mantua, and the Patriarch of Venice, brightly, vividly and with many anecdotes that are worth remembering.
Just under half the book is devoted to these important years, still so little known. before the Conclave which raised the comparatively unknown Cardinal to the Throne of SL Peter.
Those who have seen the film of the life of St. Pius will perhaps recognise the origin of the script, but the book gives a wholesome corrective to the not altogether happy impression that the film gives of the strong man who set out "To restore all things in Christ." In fact one might almost say that in justice to Pope Pius this hook should he read or made available to the many children who have been taken by teachers to see "Secret Conclave."
ST. THOMAS'S EVE, by Jean Plaldy (Robert Hale, 10s. 6d.).
JEAN PLAIDY, with eight books, J has already established herself as a more than competent historical novelist. Notable among them are Madame Serpe it t, The Italian Woman, and Queen Jezebel, a logy on the life of Catherine de Medici, which individually and as a series won deserved praise from discerning critics for "thoughtfulness," the "meticulous and painstaking nature" of the necessary research, good story-telling, and a "sure ability to make re-live" the characters of history. But it would be doing the writer herself less than justice, and none to St. Thomas More, if one were to pretend that she were equally successful here in St. Thomas's Eve. This novel is described on the flyleaf and the dust-cover as "the story of many and diverse loves; the turbulent passion of a king; the tender devotion of a daughter; and the love of a man for his faith which surpassed his love of life."
That is precisely what it is, an interesting, stimulating, moving and highly imaginative representation of a story that has all the elements of enduring human interest. It is meant to be, and it is, a novel.
That. of course, is the crux; for the novel, even the historical novel, can be written only if the conventional omniscience, which is more easily allowed in respect of imaginary characters, is granted for persons who exist now, and once lived and loved and died. One is therefore not only put off by the modernity of thought, language and tone of the following, but at issue with the author in her assumption that Lutheranism was for Meg More a "creed," a "faith."
She is made to say: " . . Father I do not believe it is important whether men follow
Luther or the Pope . . . as long as they obey Christ's commandments.
I have tabled the differences and pondered them. Are they real differences? Neither creed excludes Love;
and Love is surely the whole meaning of good in life, is it not, Father, I know your thoughts."
And again, smilingly:
"Oh, Father, do not be a saint. Do not torture your body with whips and this hair-shirt. You are yourself. You are our beloved father. We do not want a saint. And if love makes you weak . . then that is yourself . . . far more lovable than any saint."
These two short extracts are taken of set purpose from a part of the story which in itself does not involve any of the great and intricate questions in which even wise men of the time lost their way. When these do arise in the story, the author, of course, finds no greater measuring penetration into the spiritual principles involved. If this new historical novel does Miss Plaidy's reputation for re-creating history no great credit, it does nothing to damage her reputation for being able to tell a human story extremely well.
ON KEEPING FIT, by Dr. Mary Kidd (Burns Oates, 2s. 6d.).
r R. MARTINDALE writes a charming and witty preface to Dr. Mary Kidd's On Keeping Fit, in which her abundant professional qualifications assure the value of what she has to say. Her sound common sense and wide reading help to make the advice she gives interesting arid convincing.
There is a specially valuable chapter on "Planning a Proper Diet," and a very useful warning against the root cause of so much illness-overstrain, which is by no means the same thing, or a necessary consequence of overwork. This is a book that should find its way into every convent.
THE CROWN OF MARY, by Denis O'Shea. Canon of the Holy Sepulchre (Gill and Son, 5s. 64.).
"DREACHERS may find these la
I chapters suitable for sermons. Priests and religious may like to use them for meditation and spiritual reading. But the book has been written primarily for that great multitude of mankind whose favourite devotion is to the Mother of God, and whose daily prayer is the Rosary." So the author describes his work, and when it is added that Fr. Peyton says of it: "The present work is specially dear to me, for it sets out in dramatic and homiletic form the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary," one has the assurance that it is not just another book on the Rosary but one worth noting and remembering. The consideration for each of the mysteries is set out in a story form, gives the background and illumines the better known details of the mystery, with the writings of the Fathers of the Church and outstanding modern authors.
The title is, of course, taken from the Latin name for the Rosary. Corona Mariae. A specially apt and fitting little book for Mary's Year which all can afford and all with profit read and study.