Thursday 14 July 2016

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Book Title: Brideshead Revisited
Author: Evelyn Waugh
Genres: Classics, 1001 Books
My Rating: ♥ ♥
Goodreads, Amazon UK
Goodreads Summary: The most nostalgic and reflective of Evelyn Waugh's novels, Brideshead Revisited looks back to the golden age before the Second World War. It tells the story of Charles Ryder's infatuation with the Marchmains and the rapidly-disappearing world of privilege they inhabit. Enchanted first by Sebastian at Oxford, then by his doomed Catholic family, in particular his remote sister, Julia, Charles comes finally to recognize only his spiritual and social distance from them.
What did I think? I like to read a lot of different books. I enjoy YA, but I also enjoy reading the classics. As a child I was encourage by my mother to read a lot of classics and I'm thankful for that. In my possession, and always nearby, is Peter Boxall's 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die and I try and read at least a few of the books each year. Every now and then I make the mistake and let my girlfriend pick one of the books and usually I end up with something I would have never read on my own.

Brideshead Revisited is such a book. She brought it home one evening and I immediately started to read the Prologue and got lost in the words. I realised I needed to have a clear and fresh mind for this one. Today I had time to sit down with two cups of coffee and my dogs and I ended up tackling the 326 pages in one go. Mostly because I didn't think I'd pick it back up if I put it away.

First of all: I was blown away by the prose. Quite spectacularly. I have rarely read a book with prose as gorgeous as this. But that was it.

The prose was it.

The rest of the book... I don't even really know what it's supposed to be about. A bunch of characters meet. Charles and Sebastian form a friendship, maybe even become lovers. It's not entirely clear whether they're actually lovers or just deeply care for one another. The characters aren't that memorable and neither are their actions. The pages are laced with Catholicism. The author seems to paint a world where the characters yearn to be free but can never be, because of wealth, class and religion. It's a depressing read and not one I particularly enjoyed, if it weren't for the prose.

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