This English novel, by an English writer, gives promise in its opening chapters of much entertainment. Later, the reader is disappointed. That the author knows her London in its most interesting aspects–those in which members of Parliament and their coterie of relatives and friends are the active figures–there can be no doubt. But aside from a certain cleverness–which, being all in one key, palls on one after going through a hundred pages of it–there is little in this offering to make it stand out from the ruck of mediocre novels which make far less literary pretension.
As for the story itself, it is painfully lacking, both in coherency and narrative interest. Ridley Ambrose, a professor, and his wife, Helen, a woman of the smart London world, are going to the antipodes on a vessel owned by Helen’s brother-in-law, Willoughby Vinrace. It is called the Euphrosyne. On the ship are Willoughby’s daughter, 24 years old, Rachel, a Mr. Pepper, wealthy and eccentric, with a leaning to abstruse learning, and a middle-aged, philandering member of Parliament and his wife, Clarissa, whom they pick up at Lisbon. These people all talk smartly, and one rather wonders what it is all about, for it does not seem to get anywhere in particular. Rachel has been kept by her father in ignorance of everything which might be presumed to injure the mind of a “young person.” So it is not strange that one night she permits Mr. Dalloway to kiss her and confesses that she rather likes the sensation. Later, Rachel is turned over to Helen to be brought up as her father would wish–that is, a proper kind of English young lady. So the story maunders on, and the fact that it is crowded with incident, most of it futile, and that the clever talk by every one continues in a confusing cataract in every chapter, does not save it from becoming extremely tedious. “The Voyage Out” is announced as the author’s first novel. That fact is the most hopeful thing about it. With the cleverness shown here, crude as most of it is, there should be a possibility of something worth while from the same pen in the future.