The Score

The two stories contained in Lucas Malet's book, The Score, are concerned with sufficiently vital, even tragic matters.

The Score

The Score

When a story impresses you as being essentially and pre-eminently modern you may also feel certain of one or two other matters concerning it. It is not an immortal story, for instance, and it is likely to be the creation of the brain rather than the heart. It may be immensely clever -- it usually is -- it may sparkle with a thousand gems of wit and sarcasm, but the great simple wisdom of the human heart does not pulsate within it, and it remains a record rather of manners and conventions than of feelings and experience which are in the end life itself. The modern note, insistently struck, becomes false and ceases to key with the master song of humanity. Books of this sort often make, however, the most agreeable and entertaining reading. Like some smart worldling attired in fashionable garments who drops in for afternoon tea and regales you with a running, amusing commentary on the acquaintances among whom his life is passed, you greet the volume with a smile and pleasant anticipations of an hour's relaxation, quite sure that your heart will not be wrung nor the deep and difficult recesses of your spirit disturbed. There may be murder and sudden death in the tale, but dark and dire though the events may be, held in the shimmering alembic of all that is passing rather than eternal in the human soul, the result will still be light and even frivolous. For every book is, finally, not the sum of the incidents related, but of the writer's own conception of what the experience of life really is. The two stories contained in Lucas Malet's book, The Score, are concerned with sufficiently vital, even tragic matters. In the first, "Out in the Open," we are told of a woman, a charming and successful actress, who, on account of past occurrences in her life and because of an unselfish desire for her friend and lover's best interests, comes to a momentous and noble decision, sacrificing not alone a marriage of brilliance and fortune, but love itself. In the second story the theme is the psychology of evil, the impress made by one soul upon another, and the background is picturesque with an Italian convent and a death-bed. Tales grim enough and supposedly rooted up from warm and bleeding hearts. Nevertheless the chink of the teacup pervades them. We are never convinced of Poppy St. John's love, nor even quite sure that the man himself is as impassioned as he would have us believe. All Poppy's talk and analyzing leaves us unmoved. At the height of her struggle she sees analogies between her voice and the throbbing of the sea, and all her arguments are dizzyingly clever, but scarcely such as would come from the heart of a truly loving woman. As for Denier, the man with the huge frame and the hot blue eyes, he teeters back and forth with a priggish selfishness that hardly arouses sympathy. --The Bookman, Vol. 30

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