A Stranger Came to the Farm

byMika Waltari. Putnam, $3.00.
This first novel of Mika Waltari’s — published in Europe in 1937 — is as different from the gaudy historical confections which have made him so popular as is, say, one of Ibsen’s lesser dramas from Forever Amber. The setting is a lonely Finnish farm; and the protagonists are the mistress of the farm, her demented, alcoholic husband, and an anonymous fugitive from the city who becomes their hired hand. There is much about the novel that seems a second-rate version of something else — the plot situation is bad Ibsen; the relationship between the woman and the stranger is bad D. H. Lawrence; and the climate of inexorable doom is bad Thomas Hardy. In spite of this, the story has a somber magnetism; and in some of the descriptive passages, the Finnish landscape comes alive as in the music of Sibelius.