Molly Keane Margery Latimer - Essay

Margery Latimer

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

You just can't be horrid and superior about [Young Entry] even though salmon fishing and fox shooting mean nothing in your life—and never will. The spirit of the young author is in every sentence, in the stiff phrasing, in the clichés and stock characters and the rough, eager form of the novel. You can't help liking her aliveness, which is neither deep nor lyrical but a surface quality of health and sturdiness. You smell good things all through the story; you smell the people and their excellent clothes and the clean, cool air….

All the time the two girls. Prudence and Peter, are not very different from the healthy girls who used to be in "The Youth's Companion," always making trouble for their elders and then saving the day in some fashion at the very end. But you have to like these girls anyway, you like the way they talk to their dogs and horses…. The eyes of all the characters are turned outward on the land, the hounds, rabbit holes, a good chunk of cake, foxes. Affection is not inhibited and can be expressed by swearing airily, eating a good meal together, riding hard, calling each other Puppy….

But you cannot read this book without thinking of all people as innocent manifestations of their backgrounds, no matter how amused and enlivened Miss Farrell intends you to be. Her intention is to write a simple story from the outside. Her main interest is the friendship between Prudence and Peter, their engagements, the separation, and then the return to their old gay manner. These people are all practical, all happy in their small world. They express themselves completely and joyfully in hunting and fishing and eating….

The author is usually bad when she tries to write about her characters—this for example: "Her very ordinary, jade-green frock set off to perfection the creamy thickness of her skin." But when she lets them talk it is always amusing: "I hate that cloth, Puppy—all flecks; looks as if the hens had been peckin" it." Or Lady Mavis: "My dear, when I think how different things were in my day! They [men] literally crawled. Yes, with boxes of chocolate, like worms."

Margery Latimer, "Young Folks," in New York Herald Tribune Books, March 10, 1929, p. 18.