Micah Clarke (review 26 april 1899)
From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
Mr. Conan Doyle has a high and well-deserved reputation as one of our most entertaining story-tellers. Many of our famous novelists are noted for conversations, descriptions, style, and other qualities which are not of the essence of narrative. Mr. Doyle has generally a story to tell, and can tell it. Ills great success, no doubt, was achieved in the Sherlock Holmes" stories. They were not of uniform merit, but they often touched a high point of excellence, and no imitator has ever been able to come near them. Those who can fight through the opening dulnesses of "Micah Clarke" will also be rewarded, and others of Mr. Doyle's historical romances are of very considerable merit. But, when Mr. Doyle ventures of his own field, he is by no means fortunate, and he cannot be congratulated on his last book, "A Duet with an Occasional Chorus" (Richards). It is the tale of the early married life of two good-natured, affectionate, commonplace, particularly uninteresting young people. The author meets them on their own level, seems to like their company, and repeats their crude jokes and their conventional inanities with enormous relish. The result is readable, and nothing more. We are bored with Westminster Abbey and the Carlyle house. We feel that the author has no business to make us do them once again in the company of Philistines, and it is hard not to suspect that Mr. Doyle has had great difficulty in filling up the allotted number of sparsely printed pages. Another criticism must be made. Mr. Doyle, though he has once or twice trespassed, has, on the whole, been regarded as an author whose books may safely be presented to daughters by their mothers. This can be said no longer. One chapter in this book which is neither conceived nor written in good taste will offend many of Mr. Doyle's most faithful adherents. Humanity is a complex thing, but Mr. Doyle has no qualifications for entering into complexities. Whenever he leaves the plain path of ordinary reflection and straightforward story, he is instantly lost. If he wishes to keep his large public he must return to the old paths.