chapter  83
Unsigned review, Daily Telegraph, December 1894
Pages 1

Mr George Gissing's latest three-volume novel, In the Year ofJubilee deserves a no less cordial reception at the hands of that genial author's many admirers than that which has been at different times accorded to several of his previous works, and in particular to The Odd Women, signalised at the time of its production as one of the most thoughtful and introspective contributions to our latter-day fictional literature. The story now before us deals exclusively with persons of a social class for which our tongue lacks a term of accurate definition-that of 'la petite bourgeoisie' having no exact equivalent in English. All Mr Gissing's characters are people of no importance, for the most part connected with one or another branch of retail trade, ignorance and frivolity being the leading characteristics of the women, superficiality and narrow-mindedness those of the men. Two of the latter, Lionel Tarrant and Horace Lord, are selfish idlers, so cleverly differentiated that they have no defects in common save egotism and indolence; another, Luckworth Crewe, is an irrepressible advertising agent, deeply astute, brilliantly inventive, and appallingly vulgar; a fourth, Samuel Bennett Barmby, is an admirably designed and finished type of the well-to-do, absolutely commonplace, middle-class young man, crammed with useless statistics, a retailer of fourth-hand platitudes, perfectly dull, vain, self-confident and well-meaning. Into the 'inner selves' of such petty folk as these Mr Gissing possesses a clear and comprehensive insight that enables him to depict them with convincing verisimilitude. His puppets, as a matter of fact, are invariably 'true to nature', and those who play the leading parts 'In the Year of Jubilee' are among the most lifelike of which he has heretofore pulled the wires.