Anthony Last, called Tony, a young Englishman whose dream is to restore his Hetton Abbey to its feudal glory. He does not suspect his wife’s infidelity until she informs him of it and asks for a divorce. Agreeing at first, he becomes angry at her family’s greed for alimony and refuses to give her a divorce. To get away, he goes on an expedition to the jungles of South America. There he contracts a fever and is nursed back to health by a trader who keeps Tony a permanent prisoner, forcing him to read and reread aloud the works of Charles Dickens interminably. Finally, Tony is declared officially dead. His abbey passes on to a cousin; his wife moves on to a new husband.
Brenda Last, Tony’s wife. Bored with their life, she takes a room in London and has an affair with a selfish young man who loses interest when Brenda can obtain neither money nor a divorce. After Tony is declared dead, she marries another of his bachelor friends.
John Beaver, a worthless young bachelor whose social success consists chiefly in his availability as an extra man. He has an affair with Brenda but later discards her.
Mrs. Beaver, his mother, an interior decorator. She rents Brenda the one-room flat from which Brenda conducts her affair with John; after Tony’s disappearance, with Brenda unable to get his money, she refuses...
(The entire section is 424 words.)