Prisoner of Grace, 1952

(Great Characters in Literature)

Chester Nimmo

Chester Nimmo, a Radical Liberal politician and Methodist lay preacher, the first husband of Nina Woodville. While a clerk in a real estate office, Nimmo meets and woos Nina Woodville, the niece of his clients. He saves her from scandal by marrying her despite her pregnancy by Jim Latter. After their marriage, he uses her inheritance and social connections to launch his political career. A pro-labor and pro-Boer member of the Liberal Party, he eventually wins a seat in Parliament. After the 1905 election, he becomes under-secretary for mines. He survives a scandal caused by his buying shares in a company about to benefit from a government contract. After World War I breaks out, he repudiates his antiwar position and becomes minister of production. He loses his seat in the election of 1924. Although Nina has left him and married Jim Latter, he visits their home. During the visit, he has a heart attack (or feigns one) and becomes their houseguest.

Nina Woodville

Nina Woodville, the wife of Chester Nimmo and later of Jim Latter, her cousin. Orphaned at the age of four, she grows up in the household of Aunt Latter. As a child, she has a nearly fatal sailing accident when Jim sails into a storm. At the age of seventeen, she becomes pregnant by Jim. Not wanting to ruin Jim’s army career, Aunt Latter persuades Nina to marry Chester. Nina’s son, Tom, is brought up as Chester’s. She becomes a political wife and is active in Chester’s campaigns. When Jim returns from the Boer War, they meet and fall in love again. The result is a daughter, Sally. Chester arranges a settlement for Jim’s gambling debts in return for Jim joining the colonial service in Africa. Nina tries to leave Chester but returns after he meets her at a railway station. Later, she attempts to commit suicide by jumping from her bedroom window. After Tom commits suicide following World War I, Nina leaves Chester and eventually divorces him. When Jim returns to England for good, she marries him. They have another son, Robert.

Jim Latter

Jim Latter, Nina’s cousin, lover, and second husband. The younger son of a baronet, Jim joins the army and becomes an officer. He is wounded in the Boer War. Disgusted with the British Army, he resigns his commission. He eventually joins the colonial service in Africa.

Second Trilogy Except the Lord, 1953

(Great Characters in Literature)

Chester Nimmo

Chester Nimmo, the son of Tom Nimmo. Nimmo dictates this “memoir” to Nina during the last year of his life as a form of final lovemaking and as a chastisement for her behavior before their divorce. As the son of small farmer turned Methodist preacher, he grows up poor. His mother and one sister die of tuberculosis when he is still a boy. When Chester is six years old, his father loses his own farm and becomes foreman of a larger one. Chester earns money as a farm laborer. He sneaks into a melodramatic play during a fair and is entranced by the experience. Nimmo meets Dr. Dolling, a French refugee and leftist philosopher who settled near Nimmo’s home. Dolling tutors Nimmo in political and economic theory. Nimmo seeks union leaders and tries to organize farm workers. He meets Pring, a Communist who becomes his mentor. He finds the violent and dishonest tactics of the Communists deplorable and leaves them. Eventually, he regains his Christian faith and finds employment as a clerk.

Second Trilogy Not Honour More, 1955

(Great Characters in Literature)

Chester Nimmo

Chester Nimmo, who, having been the uninvited houseguest of Jim and Nina Woodville for two years, leaves only when Jim Latter threatens him at gunpoint. The direct cause of the incident was Chester’s attempt to seduce Nina. During the General Strike of 1926, he becomes the chairman of the Emergency Committee.

Nina Latter

Nina Latter, who leaves Jim after his confrontation with Nimmo and becomes Nimmo’s personal secretary and mistress. She helps Nimmo suppress evidence in an incident involving a special constable and a Communist leader.

Jim Latter

Jim Latter, who discovers Chester making advances toward Nina and tries to shoot him with a rifle. He eventually chases Nimmo out of his house. During the General Strike of 1926, Jim finds himself serving under Nimmo, who appoints him head of a team of special constables. He does his best to keep order and defends one of his men accused of using excessive force in the arrest of a Communist leader. He discovers that Nina and Chester suppressed evidence in the case to placate labor leaders. After chasing Chester into the bathroom, where Chester has a heart attack, Jim cuts Nina’s throat with a razor.

Second Trilogy Bibliography

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Adams, Hazard. Joyce Cary’s Trilogies: Pursuit of the Particular Real, 1983.

Cook, Cornelia. Joyce Cary: Liberal Principles, 1981.

Echeruo, Michael. Joyce Cary and the Dimensions of Order, 1979.

Hall, Dennis. Joyce Cary: A Reappraisal, 1983.

Hoffmann, Charles G. Joyce Cary: The Comedy of Freedom, 1964.