chapter  36
Unsigned review, Court Journal, December 1888
Pages 1

Undeniably clever and full of somewhat ostentatious theorising upon deep problems of human nature, yet not by any means lacking in the purely human interest which must be conspicuous in the pages of a popular novel, Mr George Gissing's new story, A Life's Morning, will certainly find many and avid readers among those who prefer a novel which asks for some exercise of their intellectual powers, and affords food for thought, besides gratifying the taste for an interesting piece of mere fiction. Despite a rather marked tendency towards the use of pedantic diction, Mr Gissing tells an effective story in an interesting fashion; and although the hero is a young gentleman who by the time of his going to school was able to write letters home in a demotic which would not, perhaps, have satisfied Champollion or Bruzsch, but which were sufficiently marvellous to his schoolfellows, and the heroine a woman of an almost equal passion for culture, we fmd, to our joy, that these learned folk are very human, after all, when once the all-conquering passion comes upon the scene. It is a little alarming at first to be confronted with a hero who has not yet left Balliol, and still fmds that his despair is the universality ofhis interests, whose subject is the study of humanity, who yearns to know everything that man has done or thought or felt, who is, in a word, smitten with an insatiable greed of knowledge, and is man enough to ask, 'Might one not learn more in one instant of unreflecting happiness than by toiling on to a mummied age, only to know in the end the despair of never having lived?' Needless to say the hero, Wilfrid Athel, who rhapsodizes in this fashion, is very young; and needless, also, perhaps, to add that he fmds his 'instant of unreflecting happiness' in the love of a woman. The heroine, Emily Hood, is an unconventional character, ably drawn; and Beatrice Redwing is a fine type of noble, beautiful, self-sacrificing womanhood. Other interesting people Bit through the author's pages, the course of true love runs roughly enough, and the inevitable element of the tragic is duly introduced. But it is rather for its thoughtful, but not too deep, philosophising and its unconventionality throughout that A Life's Morning will be read; and as it is far above the average novel in merit, we trust that it will find wide favour.