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The Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 31 Aug 2000
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About the Author
Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966) was born in London and educated at Oxford. He quickly established a reputation with such social satirical novels as DECLINE AND FALL, VILE BODIES and SCOOP. Waugh became a Catholic in 1930, and his later books display a more serious attitude, as seen in the religious theme of BRIDESHEAD REVISITED, a nostalgic evocation of student days at Oxford. His diaries were published in 1976, and his letters in 1980.
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Top customer reviews
Placing one of his upper class wasters in such a foreign world as LA is a stroke of genius and the culture clash is brilliantly exposed. Dennis Barlow is the perfect stoic anti-hero, instantly loveable and detestable at once.
If you've read any of Waugh's other long novels, you'll love every page, if not this is a perfect introduction to a master of storytelling.
Once this is over and we meet the hero working at the pet mortuary, the book takes off and keeps flying.
Characters ranging from a young englishman attempting to make his way forward in Hollywood, to Mr Joyboy the accomplished mortician, his mother and her parrot cannot fail to draw the reader in and entertain in a way that only Evelyn Waugh could.
This book is a must for anyone who has enjoyed the more popular 'Decline and Fall' or Brideshead revisited' and is an excellent introduction to the author for those who have not read any of his other works.
This isn't set to last and in fact doesn't as very early on Sir Francis is fired from his Hollywood job at Megalopolitan Studio's and decides to take his own life, in doing so his nephew Dennis is left in charge of the funeral and ends up in the necropolis `Whispering Glades' where death seems like a wonderful option and can have all the finest trimmings and sometimes come out looking better than you did when you were alive. "Why, if he'd sat on an atom bomb, they'd make him presentable." That line and its delivery made me laugh for about ten minutes. It's very dark humour with sprinklings of almost campness throughout.
It is going through the rigmarole of funeral procedures and arrangements for his uncle that Dennis meets the beautiful Aimee Thanatogenos, a corpse cosmetician, and becomes besotted starting not only one of the funniest and slightly outrageous books I have had the good fortune of reading, but also the unlikeliest but most readable love triangles between Dennis, Aimee and an embalmer called Mr Joyboy that leads to a rather shock ending I wasn't expecting.
I laughed out loud a lot with this book and I wasn't expecting it (though maybe with a dedication `to Nancy Mitford' inside I should have guessed) it charmed me. I loved the irony, comical cynical attitude of the author and random plot developed and it entertained me and took me away from everything for the two hours that I couldn't put it down. A lesser known work of Waugh's that has left me looking forward to reading many, many more of his books in the future.