The Conscience of the Rich

C. P. Snow

22 February 2018
304 pages


In this, the quietly powerful third novel in C. P. Snow’s Strangers and Brothers sequence, Lewis Eliot narrates the world of the great Anglo-Jewish banking dynasties between the two World Wars.

Drawn into the fold of one such family by his friendship with the son and heir, Charles March, Lewis observes the impact of the changing world on their closed and privileged circle. The forces of communism and fascism, the rise of Hitler and steady progress of the nation towards war are interwoven with domestic crises; Charles defects from his promising legal career in favour of medicine, his sister Kathrine falls in love with a gentile, and his uncle becomes incriminated in shady political deal-making, and the family slowly falls apart.

Told with the mixture of humanity and exactitude that is uniquely Snow’s, The Conscience of the Rich painstakingly documents the swansong of the British upper-classes.

A meticulous study of the public issues and private problems of post-war Britain, C. P. Snow’s Strangers and Brothers sequence is a towering achievement that stands alongside Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time as one of the great romans-fleuves of the twentieth century.

Praise for the Strangers and Brothers sequence

“Together, the sequence presents a vivid portrait of British academic, political and public life. Snow was that rare thing, a scientist and novelist.” Jeffrey Archer, Guardian

“Balzacian masterpieces of the age” Philip Hensher, Telegraph

“Through [the Strangers and Brothers sequence] as in no other work in our time we have explored the inner life of the new classless class that is the 20th century Establishment” New York Times

“A very considerable achievement … It brings into the novel themes and locales never seen before (except perhaps in Trollope).” Anthony Burgess

Hypnotic readability
Proustian and personal
Leisurely, intelligent and incisive