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JAMES BRANCH CABELL is fond of pointing out that two-thirds of fiction consists of variations of the Cinderella myth. "Miss Tiverton Goes Out" upholds this theory; but the Juliet of the story is a new kind of Cinderella. She has looked carefully at the Prince's clay feet and already knows too much about the ashes on the hearth: she comes to the unconventional conclusion that she desires no portion in either.
Whoever wrote this book (and it must have been a woman) is capable of endowing synthetic images with all the tangibility of unsatisfactory reality. The senile Earl, convinced that she is some patrician Griselda of fifty years ago, takes her into the ancient garden and loads her with roses; and the barmaid's grand-daughter feeling the aristocratic half of her ancestry partakes momentarily in all the slim, high haughtiness that must have been Griselda's. At the other end of the scale stands Miss Tiverton's black cat, sleek and scornful the most satisfactory cat since Dick Whittington's day. Neither Juliet nor the reader ever sees Miss Tiverton, but the black cat, sunning himself on the wall between the two houses, is a competent viceroy.
Even at the end of the story, the reader scarcely understands why Juliet could not fit herself to the spiritual confinements of either her gentle or her plebeian heritage. She may have fallen between two stools, or made her choice, conscious that she was neither fish nor flesh. And this of course is the most real thing in the book. The balance of influence and choice is so nice that it is impossible to determine whether Juliet's problem was solved by decision or necessity.
It was certainly a woman who wrote "Miss Tiverton Goes Out." The other women, Juliet's mother, her sister Angela, and Margaret are so completely done: and so entirely different one from the next. But then, the men are equally good.
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