Comus Bassington is described by his schoolmaster as "one of Nature's highly finished products." After leaving school he runs loose for a time in London, gets deeply in debt, and even when at the absolute end of his tether fascinates the reader with his store of spontaneous gaiety.
o an heiress. That would solve the financial side of his problem. If he had unlimited money at his disposal, he might go into the wilds somewhere and shoot big game. I never know what the big game have done to deserve it, but they do help to deflect the destructive energies of some of our social misfits."
Henry, who never killed anything larger or fiercer than a trout, was scornfully superior on the subject of big game shooting.
Francesca brightened at the matrimonial suggestion. "I don't know about an heiress," she said reflectively. "There's Emmeline Chetrof of course. One could hardly call her an heiress, but she's got a comfortable little income of her own and I suppose something more will come to her from her grandmother. Then, of course, you know this house goes to her when she marries."
"That would be very convenient," said Henry, probably following a line of thought that his sister had trodden many hundreds of times before him. "Do she and Comus hit it off at all well together?"
Francesca Bassington hopes that her charming but recalcitrant son, Cosmo, will endear himself enough to the wealthy Elaine Frey to become engaged to her, thereby solving their financial worries. But 'the unbearable Bassington' has to compete with an up-and-coming and equally selfish politician, Courtenay Youghal. The scene is set for a great deal of sharp humour, elegant writing, and strangely moving insights into the human condition. 'Saki' (H H Munro) pulls off the difficult trick of making the reader ultimately sympathise with an eminently unlikeable anti-hero. Much of the writing is suffused with elegiac poetry, too. If you only know Saki through the short stories, this novel is full of pleasant surprises. Highly recommended.