Vernon Grove; Or Hearts as They Are

A Novel. New York: Rudd & Carleton.

THIS volume makes a pleasant addition to the light reading of the day. It is the more welcome as coming from a new field ; for we believe that the veil of secrecy with regard to its authorship has been so far blown aside, that we shall be permitted to say, that, although it is written by a lady of New England birth, it may be most properly claimed as a part of the literature of South Carolina. It is a regular novel, although a short one. It is an interesting story, of marked, but not improbable incidents, involving a very few well-distinguished characters, who fall into situations to display which requires nice analysis of the mind and heart,—developed in graceful and flowing narrative, enlivened by natural and spirited conversations. The atmosphere of the book is one of refined taste and high culture. The people in it, with scarce an exception, are people who mean to be good, and who are handsome, polite, accomplished, and rich, or at least surrounded by the conveniences and even luxuries of life. It is a story, too, for the most part, of cultivated enjoyment. There are sufferings and sorrows depicted in it, it is true ; without them, it would be no representation of real life, which it does not fail to be. Some tears will undoubtedly be shed over if, but the sufferings and sorrows are such that we feel they are, after all, leading to happiness; and we are not made to dwell upon pictures of unnecessary misery or unavailing misfortune. Let it not be supposed, however, that we are speaking of a namby-pamby tale of Lhe luxuries and successes of what is called “ high life," for this book has nothing of that character. We mean only to point out, as far as we may, without entering upon the story itself, that it tells of pleasant people, in pleasant circumstances, among whom it is a pleasure to the reader for a time to be. Many a novel “ ends well ” that keeps us in a shudder or a " worry " from the beginning to the end. Here we see the enjoyment as we go along. Indeed, a leading characteristic of “Vernon Grove ” is the extremely good taste with which it is conceived and written ; and so we no more meet with offensive descriptions of vulgar show and luxury than we do with those of squalor or moral turpitude. It is a book marked by a high tone of moral and religious as well as artistic and æsthetic culture. Without being made the vehicle of any set theories in philosophy or Art, without (so far as we know) “inculcating” any special moral axiom, it embodies much good teaching and suggestion with regard to music and painting, and many worthy lessons for the mind and heart. This is done, as it should be, by the apparently natural development of the story itself. For, as we have said, the book is really a novel, and will be read as a novel should be, for the story,—and not, in the first instance and with deliberation, with the critical desire to find out what lessons it teaches or what sentiments it inspires.

The narrative covers a space of several years, but is so told that we are furnished with details rather than generalities; and particular scenes, events, and conversations are set forth vividly and minutely. The descriptions of natural scenery, and of works of Art, many of which come naturally into the story, show a cultivated and observant eye and a command of judicious language. The characters are well developed, and, with an unimportant exception, there is nothing introduced into the book that is not necessary to the completion of the story. “ Vernon Grove” will commend itself to all readers who like works of fiction that are lively and healthy too ; and will give its author a high rank among the lady-novelists of our day and country.