A string of long-lost and cursed rubies gives the title to this highly imaginative tale by Simon Raven, author of the First Born of Egypt saga. Jacquiz Helmut and Balbo Blakeney, among other eccentric characters, pursue the jewels across fourMoreA string of long-lost and cursed rubies gives the title to this highly imaginative tale by Simon Raven, author of the First Born of Egypt saga. Jacquiz Helmut and Balbo Blakeney, among other eccentric characters, pursue the jewels across four countries and eight centuries.
Horror, intrigue and high comedy shape the story as it races towards an unforgettable climax.Tha Author: Born in 1927 into a middle class household, Simon Raven viewed the household as respectable, prying, puritanical, penny-pinching, and joyless.At Preparatory School, near Camberley, Surrey, he later claimed to have been deftly and very agreeably seduced by the games master.
From there he went on to Charterhouse, but was expelled in 1945 for serial homosexuality. Nonetheless, he managed to wangle his way into Kings College, Cambridge, to read classics, after a two year gap to complete his national service in the Parachute Regiment.Raven had loved classics from an early age and read daily in the original, often translating from Latin to Greek to English, or any combination thereof.At Cambridge, he probably felt completely at home.
In his own words, nobody minded what you did in bed, or what you said about God. Despite revelling in Cambridge life, or perhaps because of it, Raven fell heavily into debt and also faced his first real responsibility.
Susan Kilner, a fellow undergraduate was expecting his child and in 1951 they married. He took little interest in the marriage, however, and they were divorced some six years later.He also failed to submit a thesis needed to support an offered fellowship, so fled both Cambridge and his marriage for the army. After service in Germany and Kenya, during which time he set up a brothel for his men to use, he was posted to regimental headquarters but then lost considerable sums at the local racetrack.Resigning his commission to avoid being court-martialled, he turned to writing having won over a publisher who agreed to pay him weekly in cash, and also pick up bills for sustenance and drink.
Moving to Deal in Kent he embarked upon producing a prodigious array of works which over the years included novels, essays, reviews- film scripts, radio and television plays and the scripts for television series, notably The Pallisers in 1974. He lived in modest surroundings within rented accommodation and confined many of his excesses to London. He once wrote that the major advantage of belonging to the Reform Club in London was the presence opposite of a first class massage parlour.In all, Simon Raven produced over twenty five novels and hundreds of other pieces, his finest achievements being reckoned to be a ten volume saga of English upper-class life, entitled Alms for Oblivion, from 1959-76 and the First Born of Egypt Series from 1984-92.He was a conundrum- being both sophisticated and reckless- talented in the extreme yet regarding himself as not being particularly creative- but not applying this modesty (if thats what it was) to his general behaviour.
He was exceedingly generous towards his friends- yet didnt think twice about the position of creditors when getting into debt- was jovial, loyal and good company, but was unable to sustain a family life. He would drink like an advanced alcoholic in the evenings, but was ready to resume work promptly the following morning. He was sexually indiscriminate, but generally preferred the company of men. As a youth he possessed good looks, but a general abuse of his body in adulthood soon saw that wain.Simon Raven died in 2001, his legacy being his writing which during his lifetime received high praise from critics and readers alike.
He was a one-off, whose works will continue to delight readers for generations to come.