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on 23 May 2014
This is easily the best book I have ever read! From start to finish I was utterly captivated. I found the book in the summer reading list in the Hackett style guide and really quite glad that I did. I was held from the first line right through to the last and know that it is a book that I will be revisiting again and again in the future. I do apologise to anyone reading this for that awful pun but all is can say is that I must have been influenced by Beryl while in Rome!

If wondering whether or not to get the book, you do not need to think about it, just buy it, it is truly excellent and I cannot recommend it enough!
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on 4 March 2001
While this was Waugh's least favourite of his own books, the one that he blamed for exposing him to the trials of fan mail and public recognition, it is in fact, a great and glorious book. Spanning the short adult life of Sebastian Flyte, it is told retrospectively through the eyes of his friend and former lover Charles, who goes on, once youthful experimentation is over, to carry on an equally passionate and hopeless love affair with Sebastian's sister. But in some ways, these themes are not the great story. The larger pictures are of the slackening grip of British aristocracy, the power of love and the power of Faith. Waugh paints a masterpiece of the sweet,desperate years between the wars, at Oxford, in London and Paris, with one generation lost and the next helplessly watching history lurching towards a repetition of the same madness.
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VINE VOICEon 2 July 2008
Waugh, in my opinion, is probably the finest British writer of the 20th century. I well remember the surprise and delight I felt when I first read one of his books (The Loved One); the economy and beauty of the language, the wit, the sophistication. So it is with some disappointment that I have to say I did not really enjoy Brideshead. It seems to me to be a reflection of Waugh's internal struggles with religion and belief acted out through the pages of a novel and its characters who, by the way, I found unsympathetic. This is a novel with serious themes but without the depth or the wit of the Sword of Honour Trilogy which is by comparison a masterpiece.
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on 5 March 2015
beautifully written--wish I'd read it before watching the TV series
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on 27 July 2015
Good read. How some people used to live - very decadent !!
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on 8 March 2015
I was rather disappointed when I noticed that this book is an AMERICAN edition of Waugh's famous work.. Had I known this, I would NOT have
bought it. Why on earth do the Americans RE-TYPE set proper British English for their own brand? Your other Waugh books with the same
blue dust jacket are probably the same. I am not amused.
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on 12 August 2001
This is an amazing novel in every way. The writing is beautiful and so brilliantly evocative of an era and a way of life which sadly no longer exists. The story follows Charles Ryder and his dealings with the aristocratic inhabitants of Brideshead. The relationship between Charles and Sebastian is beautiful and moving.
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on 5 May 2010
I have to say I read the last third of "Brideshead" with growing unease and finally outright anger. I think I felt this way because the first third of the book is just so amazing. The setting and language come alive with such wonderful precision and vitality. It was as if I could smell the flowers under Charles's window at Oxford. The metaphor of the "low door in the hedge" as the secret entrance to the hidden garden of love is one of the most eloquent and true I have ever encountered. Charles's Oxford friends are all quite funny and unique. I was fascinated by this vanished, exotic world (to me at least) that he depicted. The book is very funny and Waugh is incredibly adept with language and maintains a lightness of touch that is hard to immitate.

Not that I couldn't see something disappointing and religiously related coming from the narrator's hints throughout the book, but part of me was hoping in vain, that whatever happened, it would not be stupid, at least. Books are usually so hard to end in a way that truly satisfies the reader. I understand that. Authors who can manage it, I take my hat off to you, because you are few and far between. I have to say though... that the end of the book...except for the intriguing parts of Alexander Flyte having his surreal dreams and talking to himself about the history of the family... really frustrated me, precisely because the beginning showed such amazing promise.

I wish the last part didn't exst at all, because I felt it contradicted the beauty of the first part and all that that part of the book sought to communicate to the reader. I'm not exactly sure why, but when writing about the love between Sebastian and Charles and their exciting first year together at Oxford, Waugh managed to keep me completely enchanted, as if under a spell. Sebastian, Antony Blanche and Cordelia came alive with extraordinary vibrancy for me. At this point the book had an openess, a playfulness and warmth of spirit towards the characters that grows colder and nastier and more snobbish as the novel goes on. This makes it even harder to buy what happens at the end, Charles's change of heart towards faith and the truth of the miracle he witnesses at the end before Alexander dies. It just seems ridiculous and hard to swallow after all that has gone before.

Why does the romance between Charles and Sebastan read so beautifully, while the one between Charles and Julia has no personality or magic whatsoever? I don't find Julia a very intriguing character. All we're ever told about is her beauty and her relationship with Rex. She doesn't seem to have any real desires (other than to get married) or intelligence. There is nothing really unusual or intriguing about her. Charles and Julia never actually even seem particularly happy together. They just become another bunch of boring middle-aged people skulking around behind their spouse's backs. And who in their right mind is sexually attracted to a "woman's magical sadness" the way Charles supposedly is anyway?

As soon as Sebastian becomes a boring alcoholic and leaves the stage, the book loses all its spark and vitality. I realy hated how Waugh turned Sebastian into this dull, tormented drunk and tried to pawn Sebastian's difficulties off on his guilt at having failed his mother by not being a good Catholic. Anyone can see that Sebastian's character is probably in torment because he is gay and that goes against his mother's ambitions for him and the teachings of his religion. That's why he doesn't want to grow up. However, the author seems desperate to avoid saying it. I suppose being gay would have been a criminal offense at the time, so maybe writing about it too explicitly might be too. I was left wishing the book followed Sebastian's affair with Kurt and his search for him in Nazi Germany, because that seemed more dramatic and exciting than what Charles did. I wish the author would have stuck with the Charles and Sebastian romance, because I think the outcome of that, in the society they lived in at the time, might have been a lot more moving and interesting.
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on 6 April 2015
a modern replacement for my well read copy
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on 12 September 2011
The eponymous 1980s television series makes this Waugh's most famous novel, and inevitably influences how readers approach and register its narrative. The reverence for English Catholicism and aristocracy which preoccupied the series is very much present in the novel, but is to some extent balanced by Waugh's breezy style when depicting the conversations and attitudes of his main characters. Indeed, in places he simply forgoes recounting the entirety of a conversation by declaring he will present the main points. So there is some continuity with earlier novels, such as Decline and Fall, but with the brooding and cynicism evident in later works including A Handful of Dust and Put Out More Flags. The best scenes deal with discussions on Catholicism, with the main protagonist, Ryder, often adopting a negative or incredulous position (perhaps Waugh before his own conversion?). The story of Brideshead Revisited is familiar to most people, so it is probably worth commenting on a much rarer trait: its apparent disdain for Churchill's Tory allies who challenged Chamberlain's policy of appeasing the dictators. Published at the end of the Second World War, Waugh (or rather, his more sympathetic characters) were openly taking swipes at the attitudes and motives of Churchill's supporters (Julia's husband, Rex Mottram). Of course, this fits the theme of old aristocracy searching desperately for relevance; and its presence should not be exaggerated, it is very much a (recurrent) sidelight in the narrative. Waugh's 1959 Preface reveals his regret at stylistic decisions and unwarranted reverence to an aristocracy which did not meet its end in 1939. The novel's enduring popularity similarly reveals lingering fascination and admiration for aristocratic culture among readers, but its handling of appeasement reveals it is far more genuine, to its subject and to us, than the saccharine output favoured by TV and film producers.
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