The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVI. Early National Literature, Part II; Later National Literature, Part I.

XXIII. Writers of Familiar Verse

§ 6. Novels

Such also is the interest of his three novels; they appeal to those who relish the flavour of Holmes’s personality rather than to those who expect a work of fiction to be first of all a story, and secondly a story peopled with accusable characters. In one of the prefaces to Elsie Venner Holmes cited the remark of a dear old lady who spoke of the tale as “a medicated novel”; and he declared that he was “always pleased with her discriminating criticism.” It is not unfair to say that all three novels were conceived by a physician and composed by an essayist. Holmes, so Leslie Stephen asserted, lacked the “essential quality of an inspired novelist,” which is “to get absorbed in his story and to feel as though he were watching instead of contriving the development of a situation.”