Amy Reads Books

Brideshead Revisited:(Penguin Modern Classics)

Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh This is probably Evelyn Waugh’s best-known book, no doubt due to the well-loved 1981 television series starring Jeremy Irons, Anthony Andrews & Diana Quick (which I haven’t seen) and the recent film adaptation starring Matthew Goode, Ben Whishaw & Hayley Atwell (which I did see). However, much of the novel’s greatness lies in it’s language, as opposed to it’s plot, which just gently ticks over.Charles Ryder is by no means poor, but next to Sebastian Flyte and friends he is off a totally different social circle. He first meets Sebastian, who is always accompanied by his teddy Aloysius, after he drunkenly throws up through his window at Oxford University, and is totally enraptured by him. Sebastian is probably the best character in the novel; for all his flaws and his desire to keep Charles ‘his’, he is totally compelling and a rather damaged example of what happens if one takes strict religion too far-perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the novel is when the staff of Brideshead, under the watch of Lady Marchmain, work to stop Sebastian from drinking, a habit that does eventually become destructive.The other characters are equally colourful; there’s Julia Flyte, who attempts to run from her strict faith, but finds herself inexplicably drawn back to it; Anthony Blanche, a ‘friend’ of Sebastian & Charles at university, who is openly and cheerfully homosexual, even in a time where that would have been greatly frowned upon and Lady Marchmain herself, a Catholic matriarch who rules over Brideshead, who all the characters have rather different interpretations of. Charles, the narrator, seems to view her as manipulative, in her ability to attempt to control the people around her-to the extent that her estranged husband fled to Venice to live with his mistress, Cara, when she refused a divorce.Whilst Brideshead Revisited is well-written, with Charles’ recognition of his distance from the family being particularly moving, I didn’t enjoy it anywhere near as much as Vile Bodies, but I certainly still can’t wait to read Scoop.