“Twice Tried”, by Anne S. Swaan. Published in England. Sold by Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Mich.
“Twice Tried” is the apt title of this book of fiction. The story is woven about an English family, giving us, therefore, a very dear glimpse into English life, which in itself is educational. Robert Angus Sr., whose wife died some years ago, has watched his son, Robert Jr., grow into a young man of keen mind and ready to gradually take over a great part of the work of the elder Angus in the profitable banking business in which they were engaged. The younger Angus was truly a devoted son, upright and very different from the usual run of young people in that he was serious and conscientious in all that he undertakes to do. He was in his late twenties and being human had somewhat centered his affections upon a pretty girl, Amelia Burdett, who was a spoiled and very cultured friend of the family.
When a vacancy occurred in the bank, the elder Angus suddenly proposed to his son that they fill in the vacancy with a young man, an orphan, who was being cared for by a widowed aunt. The younger Robert Angus reluctantly consented to his appointment, for he noticed that the elder Robert Angus intended this widowed aunt for his own wife and that this young nephew of hers would consequently find a place in the Angus home. When this happened, it developed that this young nephew, though outwardly attractive, was, nevertheless, a ne’er-do-well sort of fellow. A strong dislike developed between the two young men, which was aggravated by the fact that the young nephew began paying too much attention to Amelia Burdett, who now was engaged to be married to Robert Jr. Amelia, who had been brought up in a Christian home, felt keenly the deception she herself was practicing, but was brought under the beguiling influence of this ne’er-do-well, whose name was Rolfe Ransome. The latter, who loved also the pleasures of sin, practiced his deception so adroitly that he was able to wean Amelia away from Robert Jr. in such a way that it was kept a secret to the very day of the marriage of Amelia and Robert Jr. Even the night previous to the wedding Amelia and Rolfe tried a wild elopement, but the efforts of Rolfe Ransome to rob his benefactor of a huge sum of banking money failed and the elopement was thus thwarted. The deception was seen and noticed by a certain girl, Joan, who was a very good friend of Robert Jr. and Sr. and who herself admired the former greatly, although this admiration was based at this time solely on Robert Jr.’s personal integrity and honesty. However, she said not a word of this deception to her friends, but kept these things secretly in her heart, though fearful of the outcome of the marriage between Robert Jr. and Amelia Burdett.
After the marriage things seemed to go along well and both the young married people seemed happy until the old dissatisfaction of Amelia Burdett became evident again, as she became restless under the rigid though loving control of her husband, who devoted himself completely to his business and his home. Somehow Amelia became so dissatisfied with home life, that she admitted Rolfe Ransome to her home and was again brought under his influence. Matters thus became increasingly worse. Robert noticed that his wife was not entirely satisfied and showered more and more goods on her, doing all in his power to make her happy, all to no avail. This continued until one day, while upon a visit away from her home, Amelia ran away with Rolfe Ransome and took a steamer to America. This was the first terrible trial of Robert Jr. Almost unbearable was the grief of this Christian young man. Then, suddenly, and under strange circumstances he read in the London Times the announcement that the steamer on which his wife had run away with Rolfe Ransome had struck another ship and was sunk, with all on board drowned. Indeed, a great trial for young Robert.
We have reviewed enough of the book to give the reader an idea of the plot of the story. It develops later that the report, that all on board the ill-fated vessel had drowned was not quite true and that Amelia had miraculously escaped. This news came to Robert after three years, during which time he had partially overcome his grief and disappointment and had again just been made extremely happy by his marriage to Joan, the truly Christian young lady, who had nothing of this world to offer Robert Jr. except a pious soul and heart. Light again shone brightly in his life, until suddenly the news of Amelia’s safety reached him and he caught a glimpse of her on a London street. This was his second trial. Surely this book is aptly titles: “Twice Tried”
We must remember that we have to deal here with fiction, and fiction is always the product of the imagination. The author attempts in this book to imagine and thus produce the life of a Christian young man as well as of a very wicked and perverse young lady. Though, therefore, much in such a book of fiction is necessarily outside of the sphere of reality, yet the life of these two is at times quite real, though not normally so. The book intends to show how sin gains dominion over a person, and that with a good bringing up. Yet, lacking the grace of God, no one can even see the kingdom of heaven. If you are disposed to devote an evening or two to easy reading of a gripping story, you have the material in this book. If there is such a thing as Christian fiction, we would place this book in that category.