Click here to return to the main site entry page
Click here to return to the previous page
The Rushden Echo, 2nd July 1926, transcribed by Gill Hollis, 2007
H E Bates



Jonathan Cape,  Ltd., 30, Bedford-square,   London.  7s. 6d.

1972 edition
   On the flyleaf of this rather unusual book it is stated: “Rarely can youth see itself, and still more rarely can it draw its own portrait.” It is obvious that the reason for the publication of this novel by such an experienced firm is that the Rushden young man who wrote it – when he was only 20 – has painted a portrait of youth with a truthful brush in beautiful colour. There could not have been any anticipation of a very big sale.
  I do not expect this novel to sell well at all, though it may do better in America than in England.  But that is in no sense damaging to the author.  It is, in fact, a highly creditable thing that Mr. Bates has so successfully avoided the temptation of new authors to write purely for popularity.  “The Two Sisters” will not bring the author fame, even in his own district, but it will charm discriminating readers in the English-speaking world, particularly, I fancy in America, where this rare type of poetical novel is steadily gaining ground.

  If there are faults in technique, if one scene is laboured too much here and there to the disadvantage of the narrative, it can be said that perfection is not expected in a first novel.  What matters for the just reader, and for the future of Mr. Bates, is that the story is intelligent and vivid without being heavy or sensational, and that the style is clear and artistic, without boasting any elaborate technique.  It is refreshing to get these things among much careless abuse of language and human nature by authors who ought to know better if they do not.

  Mr. Bates has not made the beginner’s mistake of overloading his stage with characters. The chief force in this story is the River, and in recording its power and influence on and final triumph over the human characters. Mr. Bates has achieved an artistic, if somewhat grim, success. In the foreground, with the River, there are just two or three young people – the eternal triangle in a poignant, poetic form – and an older, growing character in the middleground who does the most unexpected things. And the background? Just a stretch of English scenery with two small towns close together, such as you might find in many Midland areas. But the River is not in the background. It is the life – and death – of this touching little romance.

  Mr. Bates first novel is well worth the money asked for it, and it promises good work in the future.

C.  H.  S.  J.

Click here to return to the main index of features
Click here to return to the People & Families index
Click here to e-mail us