THE theme is that of Arnold Bennett’s most solid achievement, The Old Wives’ Tale: that is, the complete story of two very long-lived sisters as unlike each other in appearance and temperament as any two strangers. Mr. Meeker’s heroines, however, are personages of history. The two daughters of the Baron de la Louppe, Catherine-Henriette and Magdelaine, were reigning beauties and grandes dames in Louis XIV’s France, the elder as the Comtesse d’Olonne, the younger as the Maréchale de la Ferté, and there is no lack of either information or gossip about them in the memoirs of the period, of which, with its omnipresent amour and intrigue, The Ivory Mischief is a brilliant, a superbly real reconstruction. It is a strange and dreamlike experience, after many withdrawn hours in this world as actual as our own, but made (G. K. C. dixit) for those who like life and long novels, to come back abruptly into the present; and one surmises that the reawakening must have been an even stranger experience to Mr. Meeker, who gave up no less than six intent years of his life to making that three hundred years dead world real to us in some third of a million skillfully marshaled words. w. F.