Wednesday 6 April 2022

Waugh, Evelyn "Brideshead Revisited"

Waugh, Evelyn "Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder" - 1945

This was our international online book club novel for March 2022.

I don't know for how long I wanted to read this book. I never watched the TV series with Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews, either, even though I like most of the actors that play in it.

So, I wasn't unhappy that our book club chose it for this month.

The story reminds a little bit of the life of "The Great Gatsby", people with nothing to do than spending money. So, I couldn't say that I warmed to any of the characters, they were just spoiled brats.

However, the novel itself is beautifully written, it accentuates all the facts of life for a generation long gone and a lifestyle so out of fashion that whoever lives like that nowadays can only be ashamed. Well, with some exceptions who populate the social media, of course, and I can't warm to them, either. The names, however, could have been picked from a Dickens novel, Ryder, Flyte, Marchmain, they only had "regular" first names.

I especially like the portrayal of the change in society. Some people get there slowly but those that are kicked from their high horse have a rather hard landing to deal with.

A good modern classic that will become a good mirror of the times.

Comment from a book club member:
"The book really surprised me, in a positive way. The story was much more entertaining and interesting than I expected. I agree it really brought out the old culture and country vs. the new generation. Like you said like the Great Gatsby. I was fascinated by the difference in attitude between the upbringing styles of Charles and the aristocratic Brideshead and how the characters developed along with the story, but I also didnt get so attached to the main characters either."

From the back cover:

"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."


  1. I've been toying with reading some Waugh for a while. I remember the TV series but very probably didn't get the full effect of it as a teenager. I did hear that he writes beautifully. I'd probably be fascinated with all of the historical/cultural references these days.

    BTW - Really liked your comment about high horses and hard landings! [grin]

    1. Actually, as it was shown in 1981 I would've been 21. Still a teen in my head I think!

    2. Thanks, Kitten. I had been thinking about this novel for a long time, probably since I heard about the series about two decades ago. So, I was happy when it was picked as a book club read (as an exception to the many sci-fi books we seem to have read lately).

      And yes, he did write beautifully, I certainly wouldn't mind reading another one of his books.

      And I'm glad you agree with my comment about the high horses, that's were they usually sat anyway, right?

      Also, compared to now, 21 feels like teenage time.

  2. I saw a movie version of this book--I can't remember which one--that I didn't love, but I've never read the book. I'd really like to read Waugh's Scoop at some point.

    1. I didn't even know there was a movie version, Lark. So I checked. They made one in 2008 with Matthew Goode as the main character. Lots of other good actors in there, as well, so I will have to find it.

      So, if you ever read the book, enjoy. It is a good one.

  3. I loved this book, although, or maybe, because I saw the TV-series first. It is one of my absolute favourite TV-series. It is so beautifully filmed with language, castles, clothes and tales from a lost world. For once I think the TV-series is better than the book. It is another world from what we are used to, but I did not find it difficult to attach to the people. Maybe, once again, because they are more outlined in the series. For once I think the Swedish title is more telling of the story; A Lost World.

    1. Sometimes, foreign titles are even better than the original ones, Lisbeth, I've seen that quite a few times. Not always, of course, sometimes you wonder why they changed the title into such a strange one. But I agree, A Lost World is a much better title. I mean, who knows Brideshead?

      And often I like the movie or tv series better if I watch it first. I have put both the movie and the tv series on my wishlist now. There are a lot of great actors in both of the adaptations, so I hope I will enjoy them as much as you do.