Friday, 7 November 2014

The Money Market

Fiction ~ novel
Published (November?) 1898
(First read 07/11/2014)

I make no bones about it, gentle reader, The Money Market is pretty poor.  It's not tearing-your-hair-out dreadful like Dodo, nor is it wanting-to-tear-their-eyes-out atrocious like Scarlet and Hyssop ~ it's just routine low-key poor.  The good news is that it's virtually forgotten these days ... and deservedly so.
Our hero Percy Gerard has it all: he's 24; he's the acme of masculine beauty [yawn]; he's intelligent; he's a multi-millionaire¹; he's beloved by society and everyone-else-who-knows-him; and he's engaged to the loveliest young gel who ever graced late Victorian London [yawn].
The only snag is that said gel, Sybil Otterbourne, is a soulless husk of a thing, only interested in money, who thinks less of him than she does her lady's-maid².  Even as early as 1898, this was well-trodden material for Fred Benson ~ see below for his own opinion of the book.
On his 25th birthday, for reasons EFB can't be bothered to explain, Percy is given a letter from his long-dead grandfather (his own father being also deceased) in which the said gent explains what this colossal fortune is founded on.  And lo! shocker of the century, it turns out that Gerard grand-père was a moneylender, and the business of the firm ~ which Percy himself never even bothered to enquire about for 25 years ~ is still moneylending.  Preposterous plot, moi?  Well, anyway, Perce does the noble Bensonian thing and disposes of his moneylending businesses and the bulk of his fortune ... leaving him with a mere £70,000³ to shift on.  That's not enough for Sybil, so she dumps him and marries an American millionaire named Carnegie⁴ instead.  And after a brief bout of depression, from which he's rescued by Art, Percy marries his childhood pal who's been waiting in the wings all this time.
To describe the plot as cretinous would be an insult to cretinism.  The whole sorry mess is available online here.  I wouldn't bother, though.

¹ In today's money he can't be far off the billionaire bracket.
² At least her lady's-maid does her hair for her.
³ I forget the exact figure but it's something like this.  It was enough to keep about 2,500 proles in food and lodgings for several decades, anyway.
⁴ I can't begin to imagine where EFB got the inspiration for this name.

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