by Howard Sturgis, introduction by Edmund White, afterword by E.M. Forster
Charles Edwin William Augustus Chambers—Marquis and Earl of Belchamber, Viscount Charmington, and Baron St. Edmunds and Chambers—known familiarly as Sainty, is the scion of an ancient English aristocratic family. Behind him stretches a rogues' gallery of picturesque upper-crust scoundrels. But he is uninterested in riding to hounds or drinking or whoring in the great tradition of his forebears, and though he admires his tough-minded puritanical Scottish mother, he lacks her unrelenting moral self-assurance. Sainty is instead a sensitive soul, physically delicate, sexually timid, intellectually inclined, utterly honest, and thoroughly decent, but constitutionally incapable of asserting himself. When it comes to assuming the responsibilities of his inheritance, to managing his feckless younger brother Arthur or fathoming his sly cousin Claude, and, above all, to the essential business of marrying and continuing the family line, Sainty hasn't a prayer.
One of the unique novels of the nineteen hundreds...praised by Henry James and Edith Wharton, and...hailed by E. M. Forster.
— Los Angeles Times
Belchamber is a story about moral choices. With an intriguing cast of unreliable characters, it poses questions about good and bad behaviour and demonstrates effectively that virtue is rarely its own reward.
— Anita Brookner
More Jamesian than the Master in hinting at melodrama yet keeping it at arm's length, Sturgis is an absolute modern in stirring up tensions on behalf of one of the quietest heroes in British fiction.
— The New Republic
Belchamber is a curious hybrid, a masochistic Bildungsroman interwoven with a caustic and generally more enjoyable novel of high society.
— Alan Hollinghurst, The London Review of Books
Belchamber had a fruitful progeny in the fiction of Evelyn Waugh who used it as a model, particularly in Brideshead.
— Financial Times
Sturgis (1855—1920) was an expatriate American, a friend of Henry James and Edith Wharton who wrote three novels, of which Belchamber, a portrait of a weak but decent member of the British aristocracy, is recognized as his best.
— Globe and Mail