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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 18 April 2017
Evelyn Waugh's satirical and very amusing debut novel 'Decline and Fall' focuses on the unassuming and hapless Paul Pennyfeather - who, by being in the wrong place at the wrong time and getting caught up in the drunken antics of the Bollinger Club, ends up running trouserless through the grounds of his college at Oxford, and is subsequently sent down for 'indecent behaviour'. Paul's unsympathetic guardian refuses to allow him access to his inheritance and, in consequence, Paul finds himself taking a job as a junior schoolmaster at Llanabba Castle, a fourth-rate public school in North Wales, run by the eccentric Dr Augustus Fagin. At Llanabba, Paul comes into contact with a whole host of weird and wonderful characters, amongst whom is the Honourable Margot Beste-Chetwynde, the wealthy mother of one of his pupils, and Paul soon finds himself falling in love with the lovely Margot. But Mrs Beste-Chetwynde, unbeknownst to Paul, earns her income in a rather shady manner, and before long the unfortunate Mr Pennyweather is caught up yet again in another disgrace which is none of his making - but to explain further would spoil the story for those who have yet to read it.

This is an amusingly satirical and very entertaining story and although, as a first novel, it is not without its tiny flaws, is nevertheless a very impressive debut, which, if taken in the spirit with which it was written, provides enjoyment from the beginning to the end. I opted for the Audible download edition which is superbly narrated by the actor Michael Maloney, whose impressive range of voices and accents (especially Margot Beste-Chetwynde and Augustus Fagin) had me laughing aloud (which was a bit embarrassing on public transport) and I was thoroughly entertained throughout. Recommended.

4 Stars.
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on 31 October 2017
Another tick on my list of books to read before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

I will not try to give any sort of synopsis, in order to avoid spoilers, but it is like an, at times immature, cross between something from Tom Sharpe, with chaos, confusion and farce, and Joseph Heller's "Catch 22", with Pennyfeather, a wide eyed, accepting and uncomplaining, Yossarian like innocent being subjected to all sorts of indignities and with the same characters, but in different incarnations and circumstances, popping up repeatedly.

It is a very well written easy read but, contrary to some of the reviews, I did not find it side splitting, laugh out loud funny; it has a good level of sardonic humour throughout and rolls on well, becoming a page turner for me.

Well worth a read but, to read and enjoy it, one has to accept that it is of its time and accept the casual (and, in the 21st century, so offensive) racism and misogyny.
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on 10 August 2017
First a disclaimer i love Evelyn Waugh's writing , Brides head remains one of my favourite books of all time, as does the sword of honour trilogy . However i am sad to say i found this one dated . It was more of a farce as if the author had decided to take a swipe at various targets, public school education, class differences , prison administration , the judiciary . I felt bored . I am dubious as to whether the other books i have not read before will be a disappointment. No doubt i will let you know.
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on 7 February 2018
A classic tale of a year in life of a rather ordinary young man's early experiences. We find him first at Oxford, then as a teacher in a public school, then living with a manipulative rich criminal woman, prison then back to Oxford. Many in our book club found the antics of the characters highly amusing. This book turns over classical preconceptions of authority and justice.
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on 7 July 2017
I had never read any Evelyn Vaugh and for some reason imagined him to be a literary luminary. He may yet be one, it's only my point of view, but I was sadly disappointed.
To be fair there are a few very funny lines, but the story seemed almost meaningless and the writing tepid at best. A lot of people will almost certainly disagree, but it wasn't for me.
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on 9 July 2017
Evelyn Waugh's first and arguably funniest novel - the recent TV version was excellently done. There used to be plenty of third-rate public schools just like this. School sports day is the outstandingly amusing part of the book, in my opinion.
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on 27 August 2013
Evelyn Waugh can be a most insightful observer of human behaviour and culture, he chooses his own periods and experience to do so - I suspect this is one of his best books. Very caustic and funny on occasion, shocking but not for cheap laughs, Evelyn paints a disturbing picture of British amateurism, that provokes varied and passionate responses from its readership. If you have a hint of nostalgia for old time values then some of the characters will have you in stitches.
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on 9 May 2017
After watching a bunch of actors doing "comedy acting" in the TV version I decided to download and re-read the original. These wonderful characters are so much funnier in your imagination than on screen!
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on 18 December 2016
What can I say? It's a book and I could read it. There were no pages missing and it arrived quickly.
If you want a book by Evelyn Waugh called Decline and Fall in paperback then I should go for it and damn the consequences.
Thank you to all my fans
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on 21 September 2017
Wanted to read this BEFORE the BBC adaptation and I have to say I loved it. Laugh out loud in much the same way as PG Wodehouse. And having read it I was pleased to see how faithful the BBC version was to Waugh's tone. Brilliantly cast as well.
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