BELATED BOOK REVIEW
“The Motor Maniac,” by Mrs. Edward Kennard (Hutchinson, 1902, 320 pp.).
It is not related whether Mrs. Jenks, the leading character in “The Motor Maniac,” had saved the hundred-odd pounds out of housekeeping money, but her husband certainly registered extraordinary alarm and despondency when she said she was going to buy a car. However, like most wives, she got her own way. “I have bought both The Autocar and Motor Car Journal,” she said, “and for the last three days have spent most of my time poring over the advertisements.” She combed the showrooms, thoroughly though inexpertly inspecting a Peugeot, Darracq, Progress, Boyer, Benz, De Dion, Daimler, Decauvine (trial run described), Orient, Renault, Mors, Hercules, Kochs, and Vallee, and learnt something of the wiles of salesmen of those days in discreetly discrediting the products of other firms. She learned to drive and maintain a secondhand Benz Ideal, and finally purchased one. There is a wealth of sordid, but, in the main, accurate, mechanical and other detail : “Opening up the back part of the car, Mr. Long pointed to the oily piston and crankshaft, laying a tender hand upon the former (I) . . .” ” . tugging and pulling at the dirty flywheel
. . . at last . . . she managed to set the engine going . . . she wiped her damp brow . . . and her heart fluttered against her corsets . . ” “she pushed the (gear) lever forward so suddenly that the belt broke.” “They were now approaching Kingston, and the police in that river town being notorious for their hostility towards motorists. . . .” “You cannot go on any long journey without having at least a couple of sparking plugs, a belt and belt fasteners, exhaust and inlet valves with springs.” “Thomas cautiously raised the lever of the Crypt°. . . .” “They lost the cover of the grease cup supplying the piston. . . .” The reluctant husband having been persuaded that motoring could provide at least as much fun as golf, the family tries a Napier “ten nominal, giving twelve on the brake,” and are so impressed that Mr. Jenks decided to order one. Meanwhile, Mrs. J. tries and tribulates on a tricycle with 3-h.p. De Dion engine behind. “The piston and rings were in first rate condition. The valves, it is true, were a trifle dirty, but they soon cleaned and ground them in.” The coil suffered from engine-heat and was despatched “to Messrs. Peto and Radford, of Hatton Garden.” After competing in a ladies’ gymkhana race in
a borrowed 8-h.p. De Dion Voiturette, losing honourably only to a 6-h.p. Daimler, the arrival of the new Napier suggested bigger and better things, the Great Durability Trials. ” . . . stately Daimlers, smart M.M.C.s, workmanlike Wolseleys, natty New Orleanses, fleet Napiers, substantial Stars, swift Progresses, trim Stirlings, neat Argylls. Panhards ranged from the 5-h.p. Voiturette to the monster 70-h.p. vehicle . . . Mercedes, Gobron Brillie and a host of lesser vehicles were all there,” and, of course the Jenks family’s Napier won, to the delight of Mr. Pellin Sedge ! Other thinly-disguised personalities were the Hon. Cyril Rowley, Charlemagne Parrot, Montmorency Black (presumably our old friend Montague Graham-White, or rather a libellous impersonation who philandered blatantly though he motored spectacularly, got into hot water, and finally redeemed himself by apology : ” ‘ you are quite right,’ he said, gnawing miserably at the ends of his moustache . . .”). Definitely a good book worthy of a place near Peter Chamberlain’s “Sing Holiday.” [The foregoing review, sent to us by a reader, adds yet another book to the motoring list—but whether diligent search of secondhand bookshops will reveal copies remains to be seen.—En.]