chapter  131
Unsigned review, New York Tribune Illustrated Supplement, November 1899
Pages 1

It is very pleasant to read now and then a novel which is neither radiantly romantic nor grimly analytic~l, a novel in which the mature thought ofa capable writer is temperately set forth. The Crown ofLife is such a novel. We would be doing it a serious injustice if we questioned the fervor ofits passion. Piers Otway, though an 'average' man, is capable of suffering, and does suffer. The heroine, though conventional in some ways, is a woman also fitted to inspire a great love. Mr Gissing is faithful, however, to the familiar truths of familiar strata of society, and the special value ofhis book resides in its strong treatment of a theme which would have sunk swiftly to a commonplace level in less skilful hands. The book is full of intelligence, full of insight into types and conditions characteristic ofour modern life. Neither Otway nor the woman for whom he waits through eight hard years is idealized. Mr Gissing will not transfigure either ofhis characters by heroics any more than the man and woman themselves would have glorified their experiences. The story is of a friendship flaming instantly into love on the man's side, but controlling itself with manliness and patience, while with the woman it develops naturally and slowly under the pressure of circumstances which the author will never hasten or distort for the sake of dramatic effect. Restraint is the keynote of The Crown ofLife, a restraint which we admire at once in the chiefpersonages and in the novelist. The sobriety of the general scheme is visible in the execution of the details. The subordinate characters bear just the right relation to the principals, each one is portrayed freely, but with admirable finish, and flashes of humour illumine many of the pages. The author seems to have been deeply interested in his book; it reads as if it had been written with ease and spirit. The climax is surprising in the happy character, Mr Gissing having usually Biven a pessimistic