Esther Forbes Frances Gaither

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Frances Gaither

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

["Rainbow on the Road"] concerns an itinerant painter who found his craft so little humdrum, so zestful in daily practice, that, although he could and did earn his every casual supper, he was never in the least averse to singing for it, too. He does so in a taproom largesse of tales, true and fabricated, rendered in a manner to enliven anybody but some old tract-reading deacon or surly band of pig drovers. For he was by disposition a kind of traveling harlequin—and is as easy and entertaining company as a novel reader could hope to encounter. (p. 5)

The narrative style [of the book] is artless, intensely objective, focusing one's attention as immediately as those small household wonders that used to be handed to children to play with: a prism fallen from a chandelier, perhaps, with a whole spectrum in its insides, or a domed glass paper-weight, wherein the lightest touch could set a "real" snow-storm flying about a needle-sharp church spire and red village roofs.

Actually, the story gets off to a slow start. But the grownup reader, like the boy observer, cherishes the smallest item in the winter's preparations…. (pp. 5, 18)

The country [the boy and the painter] traveled through resounded with the exploits, real and imputed, of a footloose bandit then operating along the Connecticut River….

Now, as any reader acquainted with this author's earlier work knows, Miss Forbes needs no more than a slight weakness in a protagonist and a strand or so of innuendo afloat in an atmosphere of provincial alarm to stitch together a plot as dainty—and as treacherous—as a spider web. She knows the occult implications of the simplest fact. For she, like this Jude and the shifting, irresponsible crowds his personality drew about him at every stop, stems, too, from a folk who, ordinarily acting, and even thinking of themselves, as plain God-fearing people could believe in witches and warlocks enough to hang them.

Although Phineas...

(The entire section is 487 words.)