Reviews, Responses, and Correspondence
related to Sarah Orne Jewett's The Tory Lover
This is a growing collection of reviews and responses to Jewett's novel.
For more letters related to the novel, see Letters / Other Letters from 1900 onward.
Contributions are welcome. Please send them to the site manager.
Houghton, Mifflin Publicity Brochure
Letter from Kipling
from A. Fields, Charles Dudley Warner
Houghton, Mifflin Brochure on the book publication
of The Tory Lover by Sarah Orne Jewett
"Something more than merely a good
historical novel." - Boston Herald.
THE TORY LOVER
By Sarah Orne Jewett
For sale at all bookstores.
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY
Boston and New York
NOTICES FROM NEW ENGLAND
It is one of the most pleasing, dignified, and artistic historical novels of the last five years. Indeed, one would be at a loss to point to a modern historical romance that equals it in all those qualities and features that make a book worth reading twice. - Boston Herald.
It is a book which will bring especial delight to New Englanders, but its characters and the treatment of them are great and broad enough to win admiration anywhere. It will long outlive the year of its appearance. - Editorial in Boston Journal.
It is the emphatic verdict of all who have learned to admire the subtle imaginative power, the refined humor and exquisite literary form of the writings of Sarah Orne Jewett, that she has put her best work thus far into The Tory Lover. The story as a story moves with stately grace; the historical setting is perfect. - The Beacon, Boston.
The story is told with great spirit, and the atmosphere of the period is well preserved. - Cambridge (Mass.) Tribune.
The reader is bound to recognize in The Tory Lover a faithfulness of incident, locality, and character which makes it a novel of unusual merit, easily ranking among the very best productions of its class. - Portsmouth (N. H.) Journal.
NOTICES FROM NEW YORK
Of all the historical gallery to which our novelist friends have introduced us of late, Mary Hamilton is easily the most winsome. - Oct. Book Buyer.
Miss Jewett carries all the finesse which characterizes her short stories into her new novel . . . . It is a thoroughly wholesome and charming book. - N. Y. Evening Post.
The love story is fine, delicate, charming in every line, while the literary quality of the work is of the best sort. The Tory Lover ranks with the best fiction of the year. - BrooklynEagle.
The pictures of the life in rural Maine have a stamp that is all their own, and gives them charm and freshness, after all the work that has been done in this field by innumerable romancers of Revolutionary days. - N. Y. Mail and Express.
Has already attracted sufficient attention to make its popular success a foregone conclusion. - N. Y. Commercial Advertiser.
It tells an admirable story of courage and devotion to country, and is at once strong, brilliant, spirited, graceful, and true. - N. Y. Press.
NOTICES FROM THE WEST
That exquisite spirit pervades it, - a reflection of Miss Jewett's own loveliness of feeling, - a spirited beauty with which she has unconsciously invested her heroine, Mary Hamilton. Miss Jewett's painting of Berwick (her home in Maine) has the touch of unerring sincerity. - Chicago Inter-Ocean.
The difference between the average historical novel and this work of Miss Jewett's is the difference between the vital and the spectacular elements in literature and life. Where others have laid hold of the surface facts merely, she has grasped the inner meaning. - St. Paul Globe.
Her fine literary style assures the book a welcome among all readers fond of good literature. - San Francisco Chronicle.
A story of surpassing interest, skillfully blending history and fiction and presenting a most artistic series of famous pictures. - San Francisco Bulletin.
A good story . . . The characters of Mary Hamilton and Roger Wallingford are eminently sympathetic and awaken a genuine admiration. - New Orleans Picayune.
A beautifully finished piece of literary work. - Indianapolis Journal.
PAUL JONES IN THE TORY LOVER
Her picture of him is so vital and convincing that it supersedes any other. One seems to see the real man. - Octave Thanet in Oct. Book Buyer.
Miss Jewett's Paul Jones is more human, more convincing, less striking, and nearer to completeness than that of Mr. Churchill. - Boston Herald.
Miss Jewett has studied John Paul Jones carefully, with perhaps even more than due charity for his vanity. - New York Times.
The little man with the soul of a hero is drawn here as he lived, and it is not too much to say that he impresses one more vividly than in Winston Churchill's pages. - San Francisco Chronicle.
Perhaps the thing the reader will be most thankful for is the splendid picture of John Paul Jones, which Miss Jewett has given us. Within the past few years a dozen "lives" of this masterly "sea-wolf" have appeared. None of them has set forth the character of Jones with such life-like reality, with such flesh and blood "humanness" as does this story. - St. Paul Globe.
She adds to the charm of her locality the best picture of Paul Jones that has appeared in fiction. - Holyoke (Mass.) Transcript.
THE ONLY DIFFERENCE OF OPINION
The Tory Lover - a pretty story, well written and properly heralded, but which the present writer declines to review . . . . Sarah Orne Jewett is well and pleasantly known to novel readers. . . . In writing The Tory Lover she has improved on some of its popular predecessors. And there is nothing more to be said. - Flora Mai Holly in Oct. Bookman.
The sad blow has fallen. Another idol has crumbled to ashes, another reputation has been pulled down. Miss Flora Mai Holly has declined to review The Tory Lover. Miss Jewett, its author, she impartially admits, is "well and pleasantly known to novel readers, but she was tempted and she fell." . . . Miss Jewett is "well and pleasantly" known to American readers. To students of letters she is the brightest jewel in that coronet of short story writers which is the chief adornment of contemporary American literature. Who is Miss Flora Mia Holly? Why, she is the young lady who has declined to review The Tory Lover. - Editorial in New York Mail and Express, Oct. 5.
HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO., Publishers
Boston and New YorkThis document is available courtesy of Wendy Pirsig.
[ Contents ]
From a letter from Rudyard Kipling, 25 November 1901.
I think it's the biggest thing you've done yet and also I think that you've pulled it off - a result that not always attends the doing of big things. But what - apart from its felicities - interested me as a fellow craftsman was the amount of work - solid, laborious dig that must have gone to its making: and the art with which that dig is put away and disguised. I love that sort of work where only the fellow-labourer can see where his companion went and how far, for the stuff that seems to turn up so casually and yet so inevitably in the fabric of the weaving.
For the whole letter and more comments on the novel, see Thomas Pinney, ed. The Letters of Rudyard Kipling v. 3, pp. 78-9. University of Iowa Press, 1996.
From Mrs. James T. Fields, Charles DudleyWarner, 1904
Warner's faith in literature led him to be a prop and inciter to young authors. Where he could discern real talent and character he was ready to become a mainstay. Only those shivering upon the edge of a plunge into the sea of literary life can know what a help he was and what happiness his hope in behalf of others gave. His advice was born out of wide experience. There is a record of one of the many cases of his helpfulness, where he writes to Sarah Orne Jewett, who had confided to him the actual beginning of a story which he had first suggested and she had long been planning, "The Tory Lover"; "I am not in the least alarmed about the story, now that you are committed to it by the printing of the beginning, only this, that if you let the fire slow down to rest for a week or so, please do not take up any other work, but rest really. Do not let any other theme come in to distract your silent mulling over the story. Keep your frame of mind in it. The stopping to do any little thing will distract you. Hold the story always in solution in your mind ready to be precipitated when your strength permits. That is to say, even if your fires are banked up, keep the story fused in your mind." He wrote also to the same friend: "The Pointed Firs in your note perfumed the house as soon as the letter was opened, and were quite as grateful to me as your kind approval . . . . We are greatly rejoiced to know that you are getting better. I quite agree with you that being sick is fun compared to getting well. I want to see you ever so much and talk to you about your novel, and explain to you a little what I tried to do with Evelyn in my own. It seems to me possible to educate a child with good literature as well as bad; at least I tried the experiment. Most affectionately yours."
[ Contents ]
Portland Journal 11/23/1900 (Review of Atlantic Serial publication)
Miss Sarah Orne Jewett hasn't moved her scene from Maine, in the opening chapters of her long-expected historical novel, "The Tory Lover." On the contrary, she gives a glimpse of a Maine mansion and its inhabitants of the long ago that reveals a tasteful, well ordered luxury in upper circles in summer that we have not come across any too frequently in American stories of the last century. It's the other half of the stress and storm people who set the Revolution in motion from that we have usually had presented to us in semi-historical accounts of the American revolt against Great Britain, and it's also a different plane of Maine society than that with which Miss Jewett has hitherto dealt. Furthermore, it is undoubtedly authentic, and most carefully and sympathetically studied. All of which makes it reasonable to forecast that it will be one of the popular serials not only of the coming year, but standard for many years to come.
Lewiston Journal Magazine Section October 19-24, 1901
(Illustrated with two photographs: one of Jewett and the other of her South Berwick home.)
The Tory Lover: Sarah Orne Jewett's Novel of the American Revolution
Among all the novels for which the Revolutionary war has furnished material, "The Tory Lover," which Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston, publish[er], will have a distinct interest for Maine people and New Englanders in general.
To begin with, the author is a Maine woman and a special favorite of Maine people, Miss Sarah Orne Jewett, and the book was written at her old home in South Berwick, under the shadows of the big trees with the odor of old fashioned flowers coming in at the window; in the same study we have here in the picture before us.
Then there is much local color and local characterization, for in the old historic towns of Berwick and York, not Boston or any Massachusetts towns, are laid the principal scenes.
So strong and true are the pictures drawn of life in Maine farming communities in those trying days and of the hardy Yankee farmers, they come to Maine readers with a sort of familiarity, born of the tales of those troublous times handed down from their forefathers.
The lapse of years has not surrounded the scene with the glamour of romance which, in so many historical novels, removes it so far from our everyday lives and feelings. Miss Jewett tells her story as simply and naturally as though it all happened but recently. Her readers feel a nearness to these men and women which makes them forget that more than a century separates them.
At the opening we are introduced to a class of aristocracy, whose culture and stately living in the northern wilderness may surprise the reader as it did Capt. Paul Jones who did not expect to find here the manner of life of a Virginia gentleman.
Easily and naturally are the glimpses of rough, rural life brought in and the scene transferred to the broad Atlantic, where Miss Jewett shows her thorough knowledge of seamanship by depicting the daily routine on board the warship Ranger and the little idiosyncrasies and sturdy [study] independence of the Maine sailors on board, who, all unused to naval discipline and restraint chafed under the strict rule of Jones.
For none other than the renowned Paul Jones is the hero of the story and here Miss Jewett gives one of her most intelligent and discriminating character portraitures. This has been variously done before, but perhaps never so fully and naturally. Paul Jones is not a hero of the stage here, but a man of history - a great man, it is true, but his foibles appear as clearly as his virtues. We do not have to judge him by what was best and worst in his nature, for Miss Jewett gives us all the gradations between the extremes. We see him in many moods and under many conditions. He is the blustering, abrupt and unyielding captain, who has apparently never learned the value of tact, but he is also the affable, sympathetic and appreciative companion on his official trip to Paris. Now he is moved to sentiment by the moonlight and Mary Hamilton, again he seems to have a mind only for adventure and love of glory. Miss Jewett has tried to avoid any exaggeration and present Capt. Paul Jones as he was, impatient of restraint, of the irksome bonds to opportunity and inspiration necessitated by circumstances, yet ever ready, though sore at heart, to do the best that was in him, to immortalize the little Ranger though the fine ship he had hoped for was not forthcoming.
With the same moderation she presents the varying attitude of the Colonists toward England. The war was a serious thing. There was much searching of heart[,] much doubt and fear. With a fine sense of justice Miss Jewett presents the varied feelings of the people. Roger Wallingford, a Tory by tradition, was no less a patriot because he was slow in the conviction of duty. In truth he was only partially convicted when he started out as lieutenant with Capt. Jones, but he was entirely convicted of his love for Mary Hamilton and she was an enthusiastic patriot. But having undertaken a duty Wallingford was not one to shirk and he wins the admiration of the reader as he did of Paul Jones who came to put great confidence in the young man.
Mary Hamilton is a lovely and lovable character with a decided individuality, as have all of Miss Jewett's characters. Among the interesting figures who move through the story is Master Sullivan, the aged scholar and gentleman, Mary's adviser and friend, who seems strangely out-of-place in his uncongenial surroundings.
The story, while stirring and full of incident, does not border on the sensational. There is nothing glaring nor artificial. It is distinguished by the mild humor and tender pathos characteristic of Miss Jewett.
On the whole, "The Tory Lover" is an addition [additture] to literature and to Maine people at least, a welcome addition to local and historical lore. The book is attractively illustrated and has as a frontispiece a charming medallion portrait of Mary Hamilton.
"Novel Notes," Bookman (New York) 14 (October, 1901) p. 195.
THE TORY LOVER. By Sarah Orne Jewett. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Company. $1.50.
What can be easier for a writer drilled in the art of novel-making than to turn out an historical novel of the American Revolution? All one needs to do is to study the books of this kind which have flooded the market during the past few years, and to try to improve upon them. The necessary implements for the actual work are a bottle of ink, a writing pad, a good memory, a history or two, and possibly an encyclopedia. For inspiration one may turn to George Washington or Paul Jones or Lafayette. A beautiful young maiden must flit through the pages, and a large, rambling old house with plenty of servants and good old wine must serve as a background. Then, too, there should be several lovers, one of whom is destined to be the favoured one from the very beginning. Of course any number of changes can be rung on this scene, but the result is the same -- an American historical novel which is sure to sell, and to please the masses. In this way the half-educated learn something about the history of their own country, which they have not had the energy to study, and in this way also authors make enough money to buy estates in the country and to retire from the field for a year or so. Then, again, one does not have to be original. History made the most of characters many years ago, and even the heroine does not tax one's ingenuity too far. Revolutionary maidens are pretty much the same. They make pretty frontispieces for a book, and when they get dramatised they make even prettier "stars." All they require is a dash of coyness and of coquetry, for, whatever they are or whatever they do, the hero wins them in the end, and the orchestra chairs are seldom vacant. Nothing is left to the imagination. Human nature and psychology and analysis are not needed here.
This generalisation applies in particular to The Tory Lover -- a pretty story, well written and properly heralded, but which the present writer declines to review. We all know what it is about. Sarah Orne Jewett is well and pleasantly known to novel readers. But she was tempted, and she fell. What if Mary Hamilton is like Janice Meredith, and what if the setting does remind one of Mr. Ford's story? Will the thousands of admirers of Janice Meredith object to that? At any rate, Miss Jewett has benefited by others' experience, and in writing The Tory Lover she has improved on some of its popular predecessors. And there is nothing more to be said.
Flora Mai Holly.
Octave Thanet, "FINE PORTRAITS BY MISS JEWETT." Book Buyer 23 (October 1901) 227-8.
ALL Miss Jewett's work is instinct with charm. But her latest novel has power. It deals with a little recognized side of the war of the Revolution and with a new scene. We owe her gratitude, also, in that she has not further muddled our conceptions of Washington by a new portrait. She does bring in Paul Jones; but her picture of him is so vital and convincing that it supersedes any other. One seems to see the real man, the irritable, vain-glorious hero. She has even given us an insight into the broad and daring vision which separated Paul Jones from the score of able men and good seamen who were his American contemporaries.
The most difficult of an artist's problems is to portray a man of genius. Miss Jewett does indicate the touch of genius in Paul Jones. She does it at the very moment which reveals his weaknesses. You are able to comprehend how his subordinates could criticise and his equals dislike him, and how he failed of winning (what many a man of lesser mould has won) the unfaltering devotion of his followers. At the same time you come to recognize the fine and noble strain in the man. You feel toward him the partisanship of an actual acquaintance. You can see how he won love, although he could not always keep what he won. There are few more pathetic pictures than the scene with Mary Hamilton in the cathedral, so delicate and restrained, yet so strong. And, surely, there was never a gentler and more plaintive touch on a chord we all know, than Mary Hamilton's last spoken words in the book: "I am thinking of the captain," she said, after a little silence. "You know how he left us when we were so happy, and slipped away alone into the dark without a word. . . . "
"Oh, look, Madam!" she cried then. "Our friends are all there; they are all waiting for us!" And so with more glad recognition the happy girl to whom Paul Jones has given back her lover, turns again to her happiness and her home-coming, leaving the hero who had loved her, alone in the dark. It is beautifully and most deftly done. A mere suggestion, a touch on the strings of the violin in passing. But in it is the hint of sacrifice and the undemanding pain of a manly heart and a glimpse into a brave and lonely soul.
The real artist's touch is in this subtle final shadow on the portrait. But, after all, it is not Paul Jones whose image will remain longest in the reader's mind; it is Mary Hamiton. A sweeter, braver, more charming creature not even the painter of dainty Betty Leichester [Leicester] has ever drawn. Of all the historical gallery to which our novelist friends have introduced us of late, she is easily the most winsome. She is not startling, or bewildering, or dazzling; one can as soon imagine her playing with her lover as forgetting him; there are no fireworks about Mary Hamilton, and she never poses for the limelight. Even if she do a heroic act (as she does more than once) it is done so unobtrusively and naturally that one is more impressed with its sense than its heroism. She is merely a high-souled and lovable creature, one of the few, notably few heroines of fiction, whom one would like for a next-door neighbor. Did she live to-day, her husband and children would adore her, her mother-in-law would cling to her, men would admire her and woman love her; and she would have a good name in the intelligence offices -- which means more than any of the other praises! To have made her as she is, and not in the least other-worldly or pretentious -- just a sweet, sane gentlewoman, who could make mistakes, but never loses either her tact or her good manners -- is a triumph.
Another delicious portrait is Madame Wallingford's. "She had never been called beautiful; she had no great learning. . . . She had manner rather than manners; she was plainly enough that unmistakable and easily recognized person, a great lady. They are but few in every generation, but the simplicity and royalty of their lovely succession have never disappeared from an admiring world." "Easily recognized," truly; but not so easily drawn. Both Madame Wallingford and Mary Hamilton are great ladies. How many novelists of this ilk can draw a lady? Miss Jewett can draw a lady without having to think. She never makes a false stroke. It is something to do. Because Miss Jewett does it so easily her achievement is not less. Her gentlefolks are silly, sometimes (brains cannot always be either born or bred!) brutal, even; but they are always gentlefolks.
As Mary is a gentlewoman so is her lover a brave and gallant young gentleman. To have made him keep our respect through his misfortunes and his acting in these misfortunes like a plucky, every-day man, rather than a god-like conqueror of a hero, is another achievement. The lover is a Tory who becomes a very moderate patriot, possibly seeing things more clearly than a more sanguine partisan. The conduct of the so-called patriots to his mother is instructive reading for those of us who are disposed to believe all the virtues can belong to one side. In truth, the patriots treated the royalists with the same ferocious and stupid brutality that the Tories meted out to the "rebels." And among the loyalists were some of the true lovers of their country, men like Thompson and Hutchison. When the colonies exiled such men, they emulated George III.'s stupidity.
Miss Jewett's story deals with the fortunes of a young man who loved his country with his eyes open. He disapproves of her rebellion; but when the die is cast, throws his lot on her side. There is a likeness to some readers between such a tory and the anti-imperialists who utterly disapproved of the Spanish War, but accepted its results. Indeed, an amusing and ingenious parallel might be drawn; so well has Miss Jewett described a certain temperament, as indigenous to the New England soil, to-day, as yesterday.
I seem to be speaking, always, of portraits; but I feel more the power of the human beings (they are no less) who walk through the story as they do through life, than any rush of incident or any excitement of plot. There are a few places where the rich and leisurely flow of the charming narrative grows rapid. The best of these is the attack on Madame Wallingford's house. Those pages stir the blood; so do some about Paul Jones's hawk-like dives at the English coast; and the whole story of the sickening squabbles and bickerings and squeamish timidities which hindered him in France, is vivid to a degree. And as always with Miss Jewett, the style of these narrations is exquisite, simple as finished, the style of a master. But in general, it is not for the plot or for the style that one must believe that here is a book to endure; it is because before us we have the veritable lives and souls of our ancestors. They are before us in their habit as they lived. We not only see; we know them. And such portrayal is the only real creative, the only real enduring force in literature.
"The FICTION of the EARLY AUTUMN," Outlook 69 (October 19, 1901) p. 420.
MISS JEWETT'S work has been a long loyalty to art so delicate, finely wrought, and sincere has it been from the beginning. She has never been diverted from her vocation as a painter of New England traits and life -- a painter of sensitive feeling, clear insight, and a finished, reposeful, but individual and vital style. Her quiet fidelity to high standards, wholesome methods, and the realities of character has evidenced that quality in her nature and in her art which stamps her as one of the writers of our time whose place is secure. In "The Tory Lover" she does not leave the field which she knows intimately and with the insight of affection. The larger movement of the story is on the other side of the sea; but the passions and convictions which dominate and shape it are of New England origin, and the air of New England fills the sails of the little craft which bears Paul Jones and his turbulent crew. There is in the story no striving to catch the wind of popular favor which is bearing tales of adventure to such fabulous ports in these days; no attempt to adjust an exquisite art to the taste of the hour. Miss Jewett is beyond the reach of these grosser temptations. Her method is unchanged; her refinement, delicacy, and trained skill are on every page; she has simply varied her material. For any writer of average ability "The Tory Lover" would be an achievement, so admirable is its workmanship. Miss Jewett must be judged by her own standards, however, and by her standards her latest tale cannot be regarded as on a level with her most characteristic work. It is not convincing. The story of incident and adventure is not her vocation. Fortunately, she has no need of success in a new field; her own field is ample, and her possession of it complete. (Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston.)
William Payne Morton, "Recent Fiction," Dial 31 (November, 1901) p. 365.
We regret that Miss Jewett should have attempted to write a historical romance of the conventional sort. In delicate genre studies of New England life and character, she has few equals, and her work in this her chosen field is artistically satisfying to an exacting taste. But in such a book as "The Tory Lover" she is out of her natural element, and the result is a rather poor example of a species of composition now only to be justified by extraordinary dash and brilliancy. Neither of these qualities is displayed in this story of the Revolutionary War. There is much finish in the detail, but there is nothing of the large imaginative sweep that should characterize historical romance. The best feature of Miss Jewett's book is found in its account of the brutal treatment meted out to the tories in New England during the turbulent days that followed the outbreak of hostilities. This aspect of our revolutionary struggle has been treated in much too gingerly a fashion by the historians, and it is only of recent years that the public has been told the truth about the matter. Miss Jewett tells the truth, and for this we may be thankful. But for the story of heroic deeds she has not the equipment, and her Paul Jones, for example, offers a weak contrast to the figure of that captain as it appears in "Richard Carvel," or even in the slap-dash books of Archdeacon Brady. We trust that Miss Jewett will at once go back to her study of the humors of the New England town.
M. H. Vorse, "Recent Fiction," Critic 39 (November 1901) pp. 469-70.
"The Tory Lover," a book distinguished in many ways from the ordinary historical romance, is not without some of its faults.
Miss Jewett evidently was at much pains to convey the breath of life into her story of the Revolution, but instead of making the time live for one, she merely writes about it, although it is fair to say that she writes about it sympathetically.
It is as a series of pictures that one thinks of the book rather than as a consecutive story, for one is quite convinced that the somewhat uninteresting Mr. Wallingford, who is rather too conspicuously a perfect gentleman, will come to no harm and will in due time be united with Miss Hamilton. The interview between Mary and Madame Wallingford, the description of the monotonous life on shipboard, with the demoralizing results it has on the men, together with other minor incidents, are what raise "The Tory Lover" above the rank and file of historical novels of the year. The character of Paul Jones is the most convincing of any in the book and the one with the greatest personality.
It is, perhaps, too much to demand that, beside the difficult task of making the personages of a story act as men and women, an author shall enter into the brain of another century and, to the permanent human traits, add that evanescent something that divides the thought of one generation so widely from that of another.
After all, it is a great gift easily to be pleased by the stories one reads and one should be content in the fact that "The Tory Lover" is a graceful story, and attractively written, and that Miss Jewett had been very merciful in that she has spared us descriptions of the horrors of war -- she has so far departed from precedent that not even one Tory is tarred and feathered by indignant patriots. M. H. Vorse
"CURRENT FICTION," THE LITERARY WORLD 32 (November 1, 1901) p. 218.
Sarah Orne Lewett. With her accustomed grace and finish of style, Miss Jewett tells in this novel the oft told story of Captain Paul Jones and the early days of the American navy. The opening scenes are laid in Berwick from which the gallant little "Ranger" and her crew set forth to demonstrate to the world that the ocean belongs as well to the United States as to the United Kingdom. There is a pretty love story with a happy close, and though we may experience a natural regret that Miss Jewett should ever deviate from the line of work which is especially her own and which she has brought to a point of literary perfection, so carefully wrought and conscientious a piece of work as "The Tory Lover" earns and deserves a large measure of praise.
"LITERATURE," Independent 53 (November 14, 1901) p 2717.
THE TORY LOVER. By Sarah Orne Jewett. Those qualities which have made Sarah Orne Jewett a celebrated writer of short stories do not appear to have fitted her for the adventure of compassing a long one. Her delicate, discriminating taste and literary skill are beyond question, but the almost monotonous accuracy of her style grows tedious in the course of a whole book. Besides, history has had such a classifying, leveling effect upon the characters and events of colonial days that the revolutionary romance has long since palled upon the imagination of the average reader. The greater part of this story is taken up with the vaporings and adventures of Captain Paul Jones. But in her analysis of his character she follows so faithfully the records of his deviating course as sailor-soldier of fortune that he fails to show off very grandly in the rôle of an honorable captain of revolutionary fame. As for the "Tory Lover," he is the victim, and not the hero, of the tale.
"Recent Novels," Nation 73 (November 28, 1901) 417-8.
It must be a mortal temptation to the veteran in other fields who beholds the country houses of the writers of the American historical novel, to take a hand and prove that he, too, can play that fashionable game. One's amour propre, hardly less than one's pocket, is concerned in the competition. To such a temptation did Miss Jewett succumb when she wrote 'The Tory Lover,' which answers all the tests of that type of composition. The scene is Berwick, Me., in 1777. The heroine is a charming New England maiden of good lineage, set off by a background of spacious colonial mansion, lavish hospitality, and devoted retainers; her miniature, in the style of the period, adorns the front page. The hero, Roger Wallingford, is lucky in love and in nothing else. After passing through the conventional phase of unjust suspicion, imprisonment, and a visit to England, he is restored to his sweetheart by the sub-hero, in whom we encounter the historical personage essential for the local color. This is Paul Jones of the good ship Ranger, who, resourceful as D'Artagnan and unselfish as your genuine sub-hero, puts up with a career of glory without love, and helps his rival to Mary Hamilton's hand. "I could throw my hope of glory down at your feet now, if it were of any use," he cries; but a little later he meets the hero in distress. "'Thank God, I have it in my power to make you amends!' he exclaimed. 'God bless you, Wallingford! Wait here for me one moment, my dear fellow,' he said with affection and disappeared" -- to send in the heroine. The figure of Paul Jones is drawn with spirit, and so is the voyage of the Ranger. There is a rather unsuccessful attempt at an historical mystery over an Irish colonist of remarkable learning and exquisite manners, whose name, it appears, is one to conjure with, though it is not confided to the reader. Miss Jewett's name is a guarantee of conscientious work, but we hope that her undoubted success in turning out a novel of the prevalent kind will not induce her to change her genre.
"TALK ABOUT BOOKS." Chautauquan 34 (December 1901) p. 321.
The reader who has not had his fill of historical novels of the Revolutionary period will find in "The Tory Lover" one of the latest additions to this class of literature. Like the other novels of its kind, it is full of "stirring incident and dramatic interest." While fundamentally a love tale, with Mary Hamilton, a patriot maid, and Roger Wallingford, a Tory by inheritance, the principals, the reader will find the chief interest of the story to center in Captain Paul Jones and the first cruise of the famous Ranger. The brilliant strategist and sea fighter is followed through his first struggle to maintain supremacy over his motley crew, the weary months through which he waited at Nantes and his final triumph over the host of adverse conditions. The patriot maid finally crosses the sea, the Tory lover leaves his English prison, and all are happy.W. S. B.
"New Novels." THE ATHENAEUM 3876 (February 8, 1902) p. 173.
THE author's real hero is that renegade Scotsman, John Paul or Paul Jones, but one can understand a good deal of sentiment in his favour from an American author. Here he appears as a gallant lover and perfect cavalier, though his rough methods at sea are not ignored. Perhaps the story would have gained interest had Jones's really valiant fight with the Serapis been included in its scope. His raid with the Ranger strikes one as rather impudent than heroic, though he did get Lady Stirling's silver spoons and frighten the fishermen at Whitehaven. The Tory lover, the nominal hero, is not wholly satisfactory. He sails with Jones, against his inclinations, in order to win the fair patriot Mary Hamilton; and the best part of the book deals with his life at sea, and the false position of a gentleman and a loyalist in such a galley. It must be acknowledged that the lady is a prize worth winning. Miss Jewett has a happy gift of description, and the old colonial families she introduces, with their neighbours and quaints dependents, are aptly depicted.
"SIX MONTHS OF AMERICAN LITERATURE." The Saturday Review. (London) 93 (March 29, 1902) p. 405.
New England is always in evidence in American fiction, and neither Miss Jewett* nor Miss Wilkins shows any signs of fading interest in a background of social life which both have brought before the imagination again and again with that freshness which comes from intimate knowledge and quick sympathy. In "The Tory Lover" Miss Jewett puts boldly to sea with Captain John Paul Jones and tells a stirring story, full of action and incident quite out of her customary field; but the starting-point of the novel is one of the most attractive homes of the colonial period, and the group of adventurers are typical New England characters of the Revolutionary period. "The Tory Lover" is written with care and with a skill born of long and loving practice, but Miss Jewett is not at her best in a novel of incident; she is a born painter of the quiet life.
* The reviewer spells her name "Jowett."