Short summary - Prisoner of Grace - Arthur Joyce Lunel Cary

British literature summaries -

Short summary - Prisoner of Grace
Arthur Joyce Lunel Cary

England, 1990 - 1920s The story of Chester Nimmo, a man who was only one step away from the post of Prime Minister of England, tells his ex-wife.

Nina Woodville meets Chester when he serves as a clerk at a real estate sales office in a small provincial town. Nina is an orphan, she was brought up by an aunt who enthusiastically plays political games and always pushes this or that young male talent into one or another committee. Chester walks in her pets because he tidies up her accounts and reports city gossip. He is thirty-four, he has an attractive, although somewhat vulgar, according to young snobs, appearance, comes from a very poor family. Chester is a self-taught, nonconformist and radical, «good Christian» and a very eloquent person, a worldly preacher of the evangelical community. He is not interested in Nina at all, she has been in love with her distant relative Jim Latter since childhood and is expecting a child from him. But before she blinks, how through the efforts of the aunt she turns out to be Chester’s wife, who agrees to a lot, both for the sake of Nina herself and for the sake of «five thousand pounds of dowry and family ties». However, one must give him his due - he is so polite, delicate and sweet that Nina does not feel unhappy and finds that she has her own positive aspects in marriage. All that is required of her is "to be helpful." Of course, they have quite a bit in common. Most of all, she is surprised that Chester turns to the Lord every now and then (for example, he invokes God's blessing on their union each time before going to bed with her), as well as his hypertrophied class feeling. Coming from the bottom, he sees in everything a «secret conspiracy» of the ruling classes, and even treats his wife as a class enemy, constantly reproaching her with the fact that she despises him for «non-gentility». He sincerely hates gentlemen, but with all that he declares that he always wanted to marry a lady. In general, Nina soon becomes convinced that such a person cannot be approached with the usual standards, in an amazing way he combines hypocrisy and sincerity, indignation at the poverty of the people and the desire for personal well-being, sensitivity and cruelty. It costs him nothing to force himself to sacredly believe in what is currently meeting his goals and desires, and the next day it is equally sacred to believe in something exactly the opposite. A close acquaintance with Chester and his entourage leads Nina to the idea that all politicians live in a "ghostly world of intrigue, chimera and ambitious aspirations" and that no one cares about "truth and honesty." But Chester’s lies always contain some truth and a purely selfish desire for power is clothed in a beautiful form of caring for the welfare of the people and the country, and this happens on a subconscious level - at the moment when Chester Nimmo says something, he really thinks so, and this is his strength. For Chester, life is simply a «balance of power,» so it’s pointless to blame him for immorality.


Chester’s political career begins with an open letter to the newspaper and a pamphlet against the Tarbiton municipality, which is full of exaggeration and lies. But it is thanks to the storm caused by these publications that Chester becomes a member of the municipality and a candidate for the county council. The next step is anti-war rallies (there is an Anglo-Boer war), usually ending with self-mutilation scandals, but Chester’s name falls into the central newspapers, and he immediately becomes a prominent figure. Nina willy-nilly gets involved in Chester’s activities, helps him, and the more she finds out her husband, the greater dislike he feels. Jim returns from the army, their romance resumes, Nina is about to leave Chester, but he catches her at the station and there, in the waiting room, makes a felt speech, from which it follows that their marriage is beneficial not only to themselves, but also to "neighbors." The main gift that Chester Nimmo has endowed with nature is the orator's gift: a «soulful» voice, eloquence, and conviction of one's own rightness - this is enough to successfully manipulate people. And returning to Chester, Nina finds herself in the thick of the election campaign (for a seat in parliament from the Tarbiton constituency), and she is not up to Jim. Everything is used, even Nina’s pregnancy (she is expecting a baby from Jim), Chester wins, and together with Nina they carry him out of the town hall. He admits that he has been waiting for this for twenty-five years. Nina is in the midst of the election campaign (for a seat in parliament from the Tarbiton constituency), and she is not up to Jim. Everything is used, even Nina’s pregnancy (she is expecting a baby from Jim), Chester wins, and together with Nina they carry him out of the town hall. He admits that he has been waiting for this for twenty-five years. Nina is in the midst of the election campaign (for a seat in parliament from the Tarbiton constituency), and she is not up to Jim. Everything is used, even Nina’s pregnancy (she is expecting a baby from Jim), Chester wins, and together with Nina they carry him out of the town hall. He admits that he has been waiting for this for twenty-five years.


A new stage begins - the path to the heights of power. Chester buys a mansion in London, which turns into the headquarters of the radicals, his whole life takes place in continuous meetings, meetings and discussions. He becomes a prominent figure in the party because he expresses the interests of a certain group of radicals and possesses frenzied energy. In addition, he knows how to make contact with the right people - big industrialists and even land-lords, whom he called very recently in his speeches only «bloodsuckers». As a result of new ties, his financial situation is noticeably improving: wealthy liberals who prefer to submit proposals to the parliament, while remaining in the shade, not only loan him large sums, but also offer a director’s chair in the board of two companies and shares in a joint-stock company (he is also a joint-stock company attacked

After the elections of 1905 (when the liberals won a complete victory over the conservatives), Chester Nimmo is part of the new government, where he holds the post of deputy minister, and four years later - the minister of coal industry. He is surrounded not only by fame, but also by hatred. Former "comrades-in-arms" accuse him of "selling himself to the capitalists" and "tasting the joys of his situation" (believing that it is true that this wife has led him astray), the radical council threatens to deprive him of his support. And the former rebel Chester now highly values loyalty and, although he still believes in «class conspiracies,» he prefers not to specify which class he represents.

Chester’s «field», which takes place in 1913, is by no means the result of remorse, he simply decides to «put it on pacifism,» because most voters are afraid of war. A trip around the country brings him thousands of votes, he becomes one of the most influential people in the House of Commons. During the July government crisis, after another rally in defense of peace, it seems to everyone that Chester is about to become prime minister, but ... the war begins. And here Chester Nimmo takes a step, because of which he will be considered the embodiment of "hypocrisy and treachery." Instead of resigning, like other members of the government who opposed the war, he as if nothing had happened in the office of Lloyd George as Minister of Heavy Industry. At the same time, in another public speech, he suddenly declares that before it was "misled", and now it wants to "take the side of the cause of peace and freedom against aggression." Nina is surprised to see that although Chester simply «went over» to another camp, many believe that he did the right thing and honestly, and the number of new friends is not less than the number of enemies acquired. Chester himself cynically notes that "all this fuss will be forgotten very soon."

Having reached the pinnacles of power, he ceases to pretend to be the defender of the destitute, does not hide his contempt for the people, calmly and brutally cracked down on old friends as soon as they begin to bother him. Before Nina, he also does not consider it necessary to pretend, and from a meek, delicate, and tolerant husband turns into a capricious family despot. Chester really loves Nina, and love makes him a merciless enemy of his own wife. Having hardly moved to London, he puts a spy, his secretary, to her, and then makes every effort to bring Jim Latter to prison. Each of his steps is aimed at linking his wife, depriving her of freedom, and only her natural ability to put up with circumstances and fear keep her close to a person whom she could not love. Equally detrimental to his influence on the fate of Nina’s children,


Chester's star sets shortly after the war (1918), and this happens as unexpectedly as its take-off began at one time. During the next campaign, the crowd throws rotten tomatoes at Chester Nimmo. Most likely, this failure is a sign of a general cooling off towards the party of liberals, which is confirmed by the great catastrophe of 1924, when the liberals suffered a crushing defeat in the elections (and Chester, among others). He is already an old man, Nina still leaves him to Jim, but Chester, under the pretext of working on memoirs, for which he needs Nina's constant help, lives in their house. He manages to make unexpected love attacks on his ex-wife every now and then, which infuriates Jim. Nina lives in constant tension, but feels very happy, because Jim had never «loved her so much before».