Supriya Ghosh

The Rich Pay Late

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Originally published  1964
Followed by  Friends in Low Places
3.9/5 Goodreads

Author  Simon Raven
Simon Raven books  Morning Star, Alms for Oblivion, An Inch of Fortune, Brother Caine, Before the Cock Crow

The Rich Pay Late is Volume I of the novel sequence Alms for Oblivion by Simon Raven, published in 1964. Although it was the first novel to be published in the sequence, it is the fourth novel chronologically, as the story takes place in and around London in 1956 and culminates with the Suez crisis and how it affects some of the characters.


Characters, in order of appearance

  • Donald Salinger – Printer. Partner of Jude Holbrook. Engaged and later married to Vanessa Drew. Romantic but otherwise a man of caution.
  • Jude Holbrook – Printer. Partner of Donald Salinger. Originally bachelor of arts in Literature turned printer. Tries very hard to buy the major share of the magazine Strix from Lord Philby. As a man, repulsive in general. Unhappily married with former model Penelope while he tries to be a good father to his neglected son Donald (godson of Salinger), the only person he has some feelings for. Has a short romance with Vanessa Drew and has Angela Tuck as a mistress even though she dumps him at the end of the novel. Loses his son, who dies of meningitis, and disappears.
  • Miss Beatty – Secretary at Salinger & Holbrook. Spinster who takes care of her elderly mother. Somehow attracted to Holbrook who helps her to get her mother to a home for old people. Later killed in some gruesome way, even if details aren't revealed.
  • Somerset Lloyd-James – Editor of Strix, a magazine of commerce. Unhappily married. Engaged in S & M with Maisie and later Susan Grange. A devout Catholic who has the habit of writing down his train of thought and signing this with A.M.D.G. (Ad maiorem Dei gloriam). Careful though he is, he always destroys these papers. Appeared earlier in Fielding Gray.
  • Vanessa Drew – Promiscuous young woman who has had sexual relations with many of the male characters. Eventually marries Donald Salinger though she continues with much of her earlier lifestyle.
  • Jonathan Gamp – Friend of Salinger and Drew. Witty homosexual.
  • Lord Philby – President of the board of the magazine Strix, a post he inherited.
  • Ashley Dexterside – Employee at Salinger & Holbrook. Homosexual. Has some kind of relationship with Carlton Weir.
  • Penelope Holbrook – Wife of Jude Holbrook. Former model.
  • Donald Holbrook – The neglected son of Jude Holbrook. Dies of meningitis.
  • Angela Tuck – Demanding mistress of Jude Holbrook. Gets rich when her husband, Mr Tuck, is run over. Appeared earlier in Fielding Gray.
  • Mrs Beatty – Miss Beatty's elderly mother who is forced to a home for the old. Finds it very amusing when her daughter is murdered.
  • Tom Llewyllyn – Freelancing journalist and writer who sometimes work for Strix. Ladies' man and bon vivant who is in constant need of money. Coins the phrase "Art for Art's Sake but Money for God's Sake!" Betrays Peter Morrison but regrets this later on.
  • Norma – Dancer and mistress of Llewellyn.
  • Tessie Buttock – Friend of Llewellyn.
  • Peter Morrison – MP. Rather honest. Leads the group of "Young England". Resigns at the end of the book. Appeared earlier in Fielding Gray.
  • Captain Detterling – MP. Ally of Morrison. Appeared earlier in Fielding Gray and The Sabre Squadron.
  • Carton Weir – MP. Ally of Morrison.
  • Lady Susan Grange – Mistress of, in turn, Detterling, Salinger and Lord Philby. She settles for marriage with Philby.
  • Harry Dilkes – Member of the board of Strix.
  • Professor Robert Constable – Member of the board of Strix. From Lancaster College. A man of high morals. Appeared earlier in Fielding Gray and The Sabre Squadron.
  • Maisie Malcolm – Mistress of Lloyd-James who has the habit of spanking him.
  • Mr and Mrs Anthony Holbrook – The boring and greedy father of Holbrook and his intellectual and highly educated mother.
  • John Growes – Solicitor for Salinger & Holbrook. Under the thumb of Holbrook, who helped him with a doctor for abortion when he made Vanessa Drew pregnant.
  • LaSoeur – Doctor. Has carried out abortions on Vanessa Drew twice.
  • Max de Freville – Gambler and bon vivant. Is mentioned in The Sabre Squadron.
  • Mark Lewson – Hustler and failure in general.
  • Felicity Lewson – Italian Contessa. Ruined because of her husband.
  • Helen Morrison – The loyal wife of Peter Morrison.
  • Fielding Gray – Officer and friend of Somerset. Only mentioned during a party. Protagonist of the novel Fielding Gray and a major character in The Sabre Squadron.
  • Burke Lawrence – Film director.
  • Alfie Schroeder – Journalist at Billingsgate Press. Somewhat decent. Appeared earlier in The Sabre Squadron.
  • Lord Billingsgate – Media tycoon.
  • Reverend Purchase – Priest with archaeology as a hobby. Lives in the village next to the mansion of the Morrison family.
  • Plot summary

    The story opens in 1955, where the printing firm of Salinger & Holbrook (mainly Holbrook) is interested in becoming major shareholders in Strix, a magazine of commerce. Donald Salinger, Jude Holbrook, and Somerset Lloyd-James all have trouble with women: Holbrook and Lloyd-James are both unhappily married; Salinger gets engaged to the promiscuous Vanessa Drew who tries to restrict her sex life (to only a few places and not with people Salinger knows or even knows of).

    Various subplots are woven throughout the book, with many characters participating across multiple plotlines. The novel culminates chronologically with the Suez Crisis.


    The Rich Pay Late Wikipedia

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