Edward Shanks. The London Mercury. July 1927, pp.322-324.

AN ALE-HOUSE GUEST. By JOAN YOUNG. Longmans. 7s. 6d.

DR. THOMPSON’S excellent book is described, at any rate by his publishers,
as being rather queerly a counterblast to E. M. Forster’s Passage to India. I 
cannot imagine what is meant by this: one might as well call any novel of English life
a counterblast to Pride and Prejudice. By a coincidence, anyone who takes the trouble
to read this page can find on another, without much further trouble, a description of
Mr. Forster’s book. I need not therefore take up much space in attempting to demonstrate 
that the two have quite different purposes. But this much at least is to be
said, that Mr. Forster did not try to tell us anything about the government of India:
in spite of certain surface appearances his intention was quite different. Dr. Thompson,
I think, does: he is anxious at least to make us understand the complexity of the 
problem, even if he is wisely reluctant to offer a cut-and-dried solution. And where-
ever the two novelists meet on the same plane, they seem to me, at any rate, to say
much the same things about India and the Indians.

Dr. Thompson has, of course, definite political views and interests of his own.
He has maintained with courage, pertinacity and knowledge, if not with complete 
success, that much of our difficulty in India is due to memories of our behaviour in 
the mutiny. He devotes some space here to a glancing discussion of the Punjab
Government and the Amritsar affair. But his main purpose is, as far as possible, to
show all sorts of people in all sorts of circumstances. His main character, if there is
one, is Vincent Hamar, a judge who loses favour with his countrymen for acquitting
the accused in one sedition trial and with the Indians for convicting them in another.
He is the Englishman with no imagination but with an inflexible determination to do
his job properly. Perhaps the most attractive character is Juyananda Sadhu, once
in the I.C.S. but gone from thence under a cloud, connected with accounts for travelling 
expenses, next a political leader in the anti-Partition agitation, lastly a hermit and 
a saint. In him Dr. Thompson comes closest, not indeed to making us understand
the Indian character but to making us realise how far we are from doing so. Between 
these two extremes, there are missionaries, other Civil Servants both English and
Indian, soldiers, tourists and various women. Incidentally, I have the impression that
Dr. Thompson has here and there excised passages from his original narrative with
some severity.

As a novel, the book suffers from being either too much, or not exclusively enough, 
a series of illustrations. The focus of interest for the reader and, I think, for the author,
undoubtedly lies in the pictures of land and people. But in front of these pictures
there obtrudes from time to time, and too often and too much, a love-affair between
Vincent Hamar and Hilda Mainwaring, which is well enough done in its way, but has
no connection with anything else in the story. Hamar’s character is not to any appreciable
extent developed or revealed by his love for Hilda: our interest in him depends
on his conduct in the two trials and on his attitude towards English and natives between
the two. But it would not be fair to classify the book as being at its best no more than