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review 2017-07-13 17:47
Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

This book has been on my “to read” list for several years.  Given I knew only the synopsis on Goodreads, I had my own idea of what the book would be already formulated before I read the first page.  I suspected a summer tale, three months of glorious fun for two university pals.  This presumption wasn’t far off, but Waugh’s story goes further than romping around in the sunshine. 

The tale of a convoluted family and the witness of their stark emotional lives, Charles Ryder, explores spiritual responsibility and morality.  Despite this heavy subject, I did not feel as if religious opinion was being shoved down my throat, nor did I feel as if I was rifling through a bible. Like Fitzgerald’s Nick Carraway, Charles Ryder is the eye over a high and mighty set of people, albeit less glamorous.  

The Marchmains are so pious that they have left very little room for common decency.  And they’re not even truly pious. Mrs. Marchmain’s religious conviction is just as much a form of escapism as Sebastian’s drinking.  While reading this book all I could think about was how everyone just wanted to run away and free themselves from themselves.  Except no one could find a way to do it.  Instead, each person just sunk deeper into what complicated their lives in the first place, be it guilt, drunkenness, or obsession.  I can’t say I would read the book again, but I liked the story while I was in it and I appreciated the prose, even if the characters were icy and impulsive.

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review 2016-08-18 00:00
Decline and Fall
Decline and Fall - Evelyn Waugh After walking into to a prank by some good ol' boys, Paul Pennyfeather is sent down from Scone College for 'indecent behavior', a blow that he takes without too much fuss. His guardian denies him his allowance and he is sent off to teach at a public school far enough down the ladder to not inquire too closely into his background.

Decline and Fall is Paul's coast through the tribulations of public school, high society, bribery, prison and faith. Very little appears to touch him. He likes his friends and some of the students, but there is little genuine enthusiasm from him except for the occasional trip out to the tavern.

The joy in the novel comes from the grubby self-interest of the upper classes and the blatant disregard they have for the conventional rules of decency and fair play. They're absolutely terrible and modern popular culture is about little else but terrible people. Waugh doesn't try to sell them as anything else. I liked it as much as Brideshead Revisited, but its a very different kind of book.
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text 2015-12-28 20:31
Look what I found!
Scoop - Evelyn Waugh
Put Out More Flags - Evelyn Waugh

Found this one lurking with the shirtless dudes at the gym, so I decided to give it a good home. 


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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-11-26 20:47
Decline and Fall
Decline and Fall - Evelyn Waugh

A picaresque novel in the tradition of Lazarillo de Tormes, etc, only in 20th century England. Completely absurd, and funny, and even more absurd.

**spoilers below!**

Paul Pennyfeather is expelled from his college (I think--this novel would be much more enjoyable for someone who understands the English school system and old money/new money/titled social expectations) for "indecency" for accidentally crossing paths with a rich student's drunken mob.

He then becomes a school master at a boarding school in Wales. A sloppily run boarding school--so how does it attract wealthy students? That is not answered. Or maybe they are all like this?

He quits and gets engaged to one of his students' mothers. All is going swimmingly until he is arrested for white slavery while doing a business favor for his fiance. He is sent to prison. His fiance marries someone else. They arrange for him to get out of prison and fake his death. He goes along with it all, and ends up back in school to be a clergyman.

Meanwhile, he meets the same people over and over--he ends up in prison with another employee of the boarding school, while the school's chaplain is now the prison chaplain and so on and so forth. There is a lot of sarcasm and wit regarding British society and culture, but I definitely do not have the background needed to find it as funny as it probably is.

All in less than 200 pages.

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review 2015-11-16 01:37
Mr Loveday's Little Outing & Other Early Stories by Evelyn Waugh
Mr Loveday's Little Outing & Other Early Stories - Evelyn Waugh
bookshelves: radio-4x, autumn-2015, under-50-ratings, play-dramatisation
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Laura
Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from November 08 to 13, 2015



Visiting her dad in the asylum, Angela is curiously affected by the situation of his loyal secretary. Stars Barbara Leigh-Hunt.
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