The New York Times Book Review (essay date 1906)
SOURCE: "Smart Society," in The New York Times Book Review, November, 1906, 771 p.
[In the following review, the critic reacts negatively to Glyn's Beyond the Rocks, citing the novel's "moral atmosphere" as "decidely unwholesome."]
Elinor Glyn's new story, Beyond the Rocks, (Harper,) furnishes another of those saddening pictures of smart society for which she is already responsible to the number of two or three, though it has always been British smart society whose unseemliness she exposed. "Exposed" is perhaps not the best word, either, because one does not gather from the author's method of telling her story that she has the slightest idea of criticising the morals or manners of the set of people of whom she writes or of impressing her readers with their urgent need of missionaries. They are not labeled as bohemians, or free-thinkers, or eccentrics of any kind, but just exhibited as the ordinary run of nice (?) English men and women, pursuing their ordinary tactics in the game of life, but it strikes one looking at them from the provincial, and perhaps narrow-minded, Western shore of the Atlantic that they are hardly fit to associate with. One wonders if English people like the decidedly shady version of themselves which will get abroad through the medium of Mrs. Glyn's book, entirely without intention on her part, apparently.
But that is not the worst thing about Beyond the Rocks. The whole moral atmosphere of the book is of a decidedly unwholesome and vitiated character, since it not only condones the weaknesses and worse of its several characters, but actually expects us to accept them at their own valuation and rejoice in the combination of circumstances that landed the hero and heroine safely "beyond the rocks." though barely in time to save their reputations. At the opening of the story Theodora Fitzgerald has married a dreadful...
(The entire section is 799 words.)