Book #80-Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Through flashbacks of an English army captain, ordered to establish lodgings at an estate, we learn of the Marchmain family and their beloved home, Brideshead.

Religious faith figures quite prominently and reinforces the Roman Catholic reputation as one whose beliefs are not easy to disavow.

I was a tad disappointed as I expected to find more of Waugh’s humor usually evident through comical misunderstandings or clueless characters.  It’s been said, however, that Waugh himself, initially quite proud of this work, was later quite critical of it.

Captain Charles Ryder, is introduced to the Marchmain family  when he is befriended by their youngest son, Sebastain a fellow student.  Charles, with little family of his own, is enamored of  the lives at Brideshead and becomes a fixture there, despite the warnings of his friend, Sebastian.  A bit morose and disloyal to family, not a man after this gal’s heart.

The offbeat Lord Sebastian Flyte attracts attention at college with the teddy bear he carries with him and other outlandish behaviors.  His voracious enjoyment of alcohol while a student develops into dark alcoholic episodes which eventually propel him into a less than savory life that even his wealthy family cannot save him from.  Caring for a fellow alcoholic, a German who intentionally shoots himself in the foot to avoid military duty, we see, sadly his sense of purpose when he insists on helping his friend as the one time when he is able to be the caregiver rather than the incompetent.  A very sad man victim to the old demon alcohol.

Sister to Sebastian, Cordelia Flyte, is the benevolent member of the family.  She is devoutly religious and joins the ambulance corps where she deals with suffering in a very up close manner, yet is not deterred.  A strong woman who is not afraid to show her convictions was one of my favorite characters.

Perhaps I could get Mr. Waugh to share some of his thoughts following the accident that preceded the writing of Brideshead Revisited.  I’m sure he could spin a tale that would be most amusing.

My rating for Brideshead Revisited  is an 8 out of 10.

To see the entire list, visit Modern Library’s 100 Best Novels.

Please share your own reviews or  comments by using the link below.

Next up, Saul Bellow’s The Adventure of Augie March…

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