A half-Italian orphan, raised by a wealthy English widow on her country estate, misbehaves.
W.E. Norris (1847-1925) wrote over 40 novels between 1877 and 1925. No New Thing is a romantic comedy in a witty style, with a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a contemptible young man. The critical comparisons to Anthony Trollope are apt.
"In the Trollopian vein…is Mr. Norris's patient way of letting his characters reveal themselves as the circumstances permit. But whoever may be Mr. Norris's masters in fiction…No New Thing is as thoroughly fresh and original a novel as has been published for a long time. The plot has been constructed with great care, and the writer shows much insight into human nature, and a turn for satire." Academy, May 19, 1883
"He has caught Trollope's genial manner in drawing people as they are—men and women who are, on the whole, content with life as they find it, who are not always analyzing their emotions nor craving for a 'higher synthesis.' Mr. Norris reminds one of Trollope also in his way of discussing a situation by a series of questions in the form of the argument which would probably have been gone through by the persons whose course of action is to be considered. In humour and gentle pathos Mr. Norris shows resemblances to Trollope.... Perhaps the best character in the book is a young man who has many talents and no application, who is completely selfish and always agreeable, and who has a redeeming point in a sort of emotional affectionateness." Athenaeum, May 26, 1883
"As a piece of style, this novel is wholly exceptional; it is careful, clear, and polished, yet always graceful and easy. To read such writing is a pleasure." British Quarterly Review, July 1883
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