by Harper & Bros. 1927. 12mo. viii+305 pp. $2.00.. New York:
Tomorrow Morning has been called a novel of hope. This it assuredly is not. But it is a novel of hopefulness, of the elasticity of the heart — its power to pick up the pieces, to accept the second-best, to look steadfastly away from the truth when this is essential to happiness, to say, when to-morrow morning dawns much like yesterday, ‘The day after to-morrow, perhaps.’
This novel has the same sharp reality as The Perennial Bachelor, the same moments of beauty. Emotionally, it is pitched in a lower key; its tragedy is that of misconception, maladjustment, disillusion. As in the earlier novel, over the grave depths of the story humor dances perpetually — now satire, now pure farce. The reader will not forget the children playing statues on the lawn — the tubby, stolid Charlotte and her small friends interpreting ‘Furious Rage’ and ‘Beautifulness’; nor the returned travelers benevolently showing their vast collection of photographs to their mutely but passionately rebellious hostess. Least of all will he forget the cruel and soul-assuaging portrait of J. Hartley Harrison, that intolerable quintessence of fatuous smugness.
Idealized motherhood is out of fashion in current fiction. Warm-hearted Kate Greene does not repel like the fanatical mother of The Kays or the hard, self-righteous one of Her Son’s Wife. But she is vain, and a trifle silly; ‘the ancient depths of self’ persist in her under her maternal unselfishness; she is jealous with the jealousy that brings its own penalty of spiritual separation. When she boasts that her adolescent son has no interest whatever in girls, at the very time when, up in his room, he is reading Swinburne in ecstasy, and timidly trying over the phrases of love under his breath, she is only under the commonest of maternal delusions. But the reader’s sympathy for her is alienated when she persists in believing that her son is contented with her companionship during the aching eternity of the summer that separates him by the width of the sea from the girl who has promised to marry him; and the mother’s one heroic decision dwindles when weighed against the deep selfishness of her attitude after all rivalry has been swept away by the catastrophe that has ravaged Joe’s life. ‘Perhaps Joe is blessed among men, because there is bitter grief in his heart. Perhaps only those who know grief are truly blessed, are truly alive, kept quick by their pain. . . . He is mine again, for me to comfort, for me to take care of.’
The appealing little boy who, after telling his mother his first lie, broke into howls of remorse at the dead hour of nine at night, who yearned so deeply to buy her the silk glove-case at the church fair and relinquished the purple treasure so philosophically when, after repeated inquiries, its princely price was still the same, who watched heartsick at the window on the lonely snowy evening until he saw the dear figure flying home to him, has grown to a manly manhood with the growth, by rapture and pain, of the part of him that his mother has refused to acknowledge; and now that he has come to grief by chasing the shadow for the substance, his mother, gloating blindly over her undisputed possession of him, is the last person in the world who can help him.
Tomorrow Morning is a lively vehicle for some sober thoughts concerning the love that will not abdicate.
ETHEL WALLACE HAWKINS