John Ward's Governess
A Novel. By J. B. Lippincott & Co.. Philadelphia:
FROM the life of a young gentleman, who marries an Italian singer of great beauty and unsettled principles, and survives her elopement and death, with two young children and a poor opinion of women, no surprising event is to be expected by the veteran novel-reader, and one understands almost from the title-page that John Ward’s Governess will become John Ward’s second wife. Incidents and most characters bear proof of evolution from inner consciousness, rather than experience of the world, in this little book ; yet we see how it could have been made so much worse than it is that we are half inclined to praise it. At least one character is almost well done, — the excellent, tender-hearted, loving, overanxious elderly sister. She does annoy and bore her brother in a natural way; if she sometimes also bores the reader, we must concede so much to art, and suffer in patience. We mean to say something better than this, namely, that the character shows a real feeling for human nature, and gives us the hope that if the author would turn her attention to human nature as she sees it about her, and eschew it as she finds it in fiction, she could do something, after a while, that we should all read with pleasure. Even in this book there are great negative merits ; the people are all in a pretty fair state of physical health ; none, that we recollect, has any unpleasant personal blemish or defect; and we are legitimately asked to be interested in the fortunes of men and women whose individuality is not eked out by entire social disability or desperate pecuniary circumstances. This is a great step, a very great step, in the right direction.