4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder (Penguin Classics) (Kindle Edition)
A novel which the author himself referred to as both his 'magnum opus' and, on re-reading it, 'appalling' is intriguing. Having read this novel several times, I always come back to it as Charles Ryder returned to Brideshead - with a host of memories and a feeling of great warmth. This was the novel which made me fall deeply in love with literature and is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful books ever written.
The novel begins when Charles Ryder is billeted on an unknown country estate during WWII, which turns out to be Brideshead, a place he knew well. The story then unfolds of his meeting of the young Lord Sebastian Flyte at Oxford and his coming under the spell of the Marchmain family and of Brideshead itself. As the young promise of Sebastian declines into drink, Charles leaves Oxford and becomes an architectural artist, before finding that his relations with the family are not yet over when he meets Sebastian's sister Julia on a ship returning from New York.
Evelyn Waugh looks at many themes in this novel: love, loss, family and religion all intertwine and interweave in this story. Of course, Waugh was a committed convert to the Catholic faith and religion lies heavily on virtually every page of this book. Divorce, conversion and the pressure of religion are all present. Lord Marchmain, living abroad with his mistress, does not enter the novel for some time, but he haunts the pages and his eventual return to Brideshead and death scene are a pivotal part of the book. This can be criticised for being about the aristocracy (Waugh himself wrote it during the war during a time of restrictions and privations and the glamour and wealth of a past life pour from the pages) or not being relevant, but the themes of disappointment, love, religion and loss are things we have all experienced.
If you are interested in reading more about the family and house on which Evelyn Waugh based "Brideshead Revisited" you might enjoy Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead (although it is now available on kindle, it is a text only version and so I would personally recommend the book, which contains the illustrations) . If you are coming to this book for the first time I envy you - enjoy.