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[Review of The House Behind the Cedars]

THE HOUSE BEHIND THE CEDARS. By Charles W. Chesnutt. Crown 8vo. $1.50. Houghton, Mifflin & Co.

In this novel Mr. Chesnutt again has evidenced rare ability as a short-story writer. It is distinctly better, so far as literary workmanship is concerned, than this author's two previous books, "The Conjure Woman" and "The Wife of His Youth." Like the earlier books of Mr. Chesnutt, this is a story of the color line–at all times a difficult theme to treat effectively. A poung[sic] girl, in whose veins there is a taint of negro blood, aided by her brother, who has for some years passed for white, forms an engagement of marriage with a white man, who, when the truth is revealed to him by a chain of slight coincidences most ingeniously unfolded by the author, repudiates his affianced bride. The discarded woman becomes the idol of a mulatto, who urges her to marry him, but she indignantly repels his suit. Her former lover realizes that his passion for her outweighs his race prejudice and he resolves come what may to make her his wife. He seeks her in vain. Death has taken her off quickly, and, standing over her grave, poignant grief, lashing remorse well-nigh dethrone his intellect and render him the most miserable of human beings. In this book the question of mixed marriages is treated in a bold and original manner wholly different from the mode of treatment of such novelists as Mr. Cable and Mr. Harben. Mr. Chesnutt's technic is admirable. He is delicate, artistic and strong. What more can be said in favor of any novelist?