Any one that has read Bookwi.se long has read of my love of Susan Howatch. Her crowning achievement, at least as far as I have read, is her Starbridge series. That series of six books about Church of England clergy from 1930s to the 1960s was a masterpiece discussing spiritual growth, the long hand of sin and the role of the church and faith in society.
But many of her books were written before Howatch returned to a deeper faith and wrote the Starbridge series. The Rich Are Different is the first of two long historical fiction books. Howatch likes alternating between multiple narrators. And in this case she alternates between the characters that are roughly Caesar, Cleopatra, Mark Antony and Augustus.
Set in the pre Wall Street crash of the late 1920s though the early days of World War II, the rich really are different in some ways. But in many ways they are not. They still have concerns, loves, loss and heartbreak. Their money does insulate them somewhat from the conventions of the day. But wealth cannot buy happiness, good marriages, healthy children, or an end to tragedy.
I was engaged throughout the book, although it does drag a bit at times. It is long, just over 700 pages, and I alternated between the audiobook and kindle book. There is a sequel that is the same length which continues the story.
The characters are not particularly lovable, which can be a bit off putting. But they are interesting. There are lots of affairs and bad relational decisions, although most of the sex is off screen. There is also a lot of fear of what others will think, which even more than the sex impacts relationships.
I reserve full judgement until I read the second book, but I generally thought this was well worth reading, although not as good as the Starbridge series.
Open Road Media is the publisher (they specialize in ebooks of out of print books.) They are out of print in paper, although used copies are available. Like most Open Road Media books, they are on sale regularly.