While he considered it to be one of the most important books he ever wrote, Evelyn Waugh's "Helena" is not one of his stronger outings. Originally published in 1950, Waugh makes no bones about his Catholic faith. His take on Helena, the Roman noblewoman who was Constantine's mother and the reputed founder of the True Cross. There are moments, especially in the last fifth of the book, when Waugh writes some of the most moving and insightful passages he ever crafted on religion. But Waugh undermines his book by making Helena talk like an English girl of the twentieth century and some strange attempts at humor (including a tortured routine on King Coel and bringing in the "Old King Cole" nursery rhyme). Waugh's not so subtle comparisons between the Roman Empire at the end of the third century and England after the war fall flat. To have Helena talk like one of the girls in earlier Waugh masterpieces like "Vile Bodies" seems a little forced and readers might tune out the more serious parts of the book. Waugh is, as always, a master of prose which redeems the book a great deal. While a solid book, "Helena" does not rank as one of Waugh's major works and readers unfamiliar with him should look at other books first.