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.