Ruth M(abel) Arthur Gordon Parsons - Essay

Gordon Parsons

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

There is a delicate lyricism about [On the Wasteland]. Betony's first-person narrative is one of moving self-discovery, as she seeks survival in her orphaned, children's home existence, by clinging desperately to a sense of place….

Ruth Arthur's novel modulates between the fantasy and the reality of the maturing girl's experience with consummate ease. We know, for all its dream-like seductiveness, the former can offer only temporary solace, while involvement in the lives of those, themselves in need of affection and understanding, who surround Betony in real life points the way through.

[It is a] superb piece of low-keyed but effectively engaging writing. (p. 140)

Gordon Parsons, in School Library Journal (reprinted from the June, 1976 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co. A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1976), June, 1976.

The characters [in An Old Magic] are no more than quick studies, and this sort of mild romance-laced story is as old as the hills—or the moors in this case. But Arthur is on intimate terms with the terrain and this is made to order for the future fans of R. F. Delderfield. (p. 1102)

Kirkus Reviews (copyright © 1977 The Kirkus Service, Inc.), October 15, 1977.

The old magic indeed, as only Ruth Arthur can distil it. Few writers have a stronger sense of lacrimae rerum, or a finer gift for conveying the brooding menace of places….

As usual any attempt to summarize briefly a Ruth Arthur novel runs into serious trouble. Suffice it to say that, in the context, [An Old Magic] is a strongly logical story into the main stream of which each episode flows most satisfactorily. There is tragedy, tenderness, an aching love of life and of the land, everything, in fact, but humour. It is tempting to categorize it as a novel for teenage girls, but that is far too limiting. What Miss Arthur does supremely well is show the interrelationship and the interdependence of the generations. It is a story for all ages and for all those readers who desire total involvement with the characters and who can give generously of their sympathy and love. (p. 147)

The Junior Bookshelf, June, 1978.