'SHE commences: "The following curious tale is set in a mountainous district in south-eastern Europe, hitherto undisturbed by the march of progress on account of its barren inaccessibility."
'Here we find two castles owned by the two magnates of the district. Count Anton Kardak and Count Stephen Boruli. Count Anton, who is a merry widower, has a son, Max, and Count Boruli a blonde Amazon daughter, Maria.
'She is like a goddess and rides a motor bike and is about to marry Max when Count Anton commits the indiscretion of bringing, as a guest to his castle, Renee de la Vailliere, a young woman of high intelligence but low morals.
'As might be expected, Maria does not take kindly to Renee, with the result that Renee sets out deliberately to steal Max's affections even though his wedding night is but a few days off.
'The best part of the story is the chapters dealing with Renee's antics to captivate Max, which she finally does on the night before his marriage. Maria catches her fiance and Renee in a compromising situation, and decides that the time has arrived for direct action.
'So, having drained Max's car of half its petrol, she arranges things so that he will be forced to drive Renee home when the party is over.
'Everything works to plan. The car stops half-way between the two castles. Max gets out to walk to Castle Kardak, for another car, leaving Renee behind. When he returns she has disappeared.
It is only the next day, when the wedding is over, that Renee's clothes are discovered by the side of a mysterious lake from which no one, who went in, had ever come out. The whole neighbourhood accepts the belief that Renee, tired of waiting for Max, thought she would go for a swim, and got drowned.
'IT is here that the reader anticipates a brilliant denouement, but it is not forthcoming. One suspects, with Count Anton, that Renee is not really dead, and that Maria has been responsible for her disappearance, but she has vanished so completely that her whereabouts are beyond conjecture.
'However, it turns out at last that Maria, on the fatal eve of her wedding, forced Renee to strip off her clothes by the edge of the lake, and then took her by motor-bike to a far-away and inaccessible village, where she left her in a peasant's cottage.
'The owner of the cottage, Pauli Matafa, accepted her as a gift from the woods, and Renee is apparently unable to get back to civilisation. She lives with Pauli in unwashed simplicity for months and months, until Count Anton suddenly discovers her and takes her back to Castle Kardak.
'The rivalry between Renee and Maria then starts all over again, until Pauli arrives on the scene, and the story finishes with Renee marrying him and becoming a peasant worker on Count Anton's estate. In this way she changes from a young woman of high intelligence and low morals to one of low intelligence and high morals. It is all very unsatisfactory; nevertheless there are fine passages in the book, and one can truthfully say that this new writer is well worth getting acquainted with.'
'A Warning to Wantons', Australian Women's Weekly, 7 April 1934, p.6.
A British film adaptation of Mary Mitchell's novel.