Top positive review
Amusing and diverting
4 December 2018
My primary reason for choosing to read Zuleika Dobson was that its title begins with the letter Z and I am rapidly running out of time to complete this year's Alphabet Soup Challenge! When I saw the novel acclaimed as one of Modern Library's Top 100 Novels it occurred to me that it would be ideal for my Classics Club Challenge as well - and its low Kindle price decided the purchase! While reading, the era and style reminded me of Aldous Huxley's Chrome Yellow which features a similarly upper class cast and wickedly observed humour.
Beerbohm was primarily an essayist and caricaturist - I believe this is his only novel - and this comes across throughout the work. Individual characters, especially among the supporting cast, are vividly portrayed. I loved the aloof Warden, the unfortunate Mr Noaks, and the wonderful Mrs Batch. Beerbohm's love of Oxford shines through as well. I've only visited the city for one day, but he obviously knew its streets and colleges very well. He captures the sense of history in both its serious and its dafter incarnations. The story itself is silly, but entertainingly so and, for a novel written over a century ago, there aren't many diversions into pretentious speeches or philosophy so Zuleika Dobson is a well-paced read.
I am not convinced I would include Zuleika Dobson in my own Top 100 Novels list, but I am glad to have found an opportunity to read it and would happily recommend the novel as an amusing and diverting read - particularly if you need a Z!