by Evelyn Waugh
One of Waugh's most famous books, Brideshead Revisited tells the story of the difficult loves of insular Englishman Charles Ryder, and his peculiarly intense relationship with the wealthy but dysfunctional family that inhabited Brideshead. Taking place in the years after World War II, Brideshead Revisited shows us a part of upper-class English culture that has been disappearing steadily.
In this classic tale of British life
between the World Wars, Waugh parts company with the satire of his earlier
works to examine affairs of the heart. Charles Ryder finds himself
stationed at Brideshead, the family seat of Lord and Lady Marchmain.
Exhausted by the war, he takes refuge in recalling his time spent with the
heirs to the estate before the war--years spent enthralled by the
beautiful but dissolute Sebastian and later in a more conventional
relationship with Sebastian's sister Julia. Ryder portrays a family
divided by an uncertain investment in Roman Catholicism and by their
confusion over where the elite fit in the modern world. Although Waugh was
considered by many to be more successful as a comic than as a wistful
commentator on human relationships and faith, this novel was made famous
by a 1981 BBC TV dramatization. Irons's portrayal of Ryder catapulted
Irons to stardom, and in this superb reading his subtle, complete
characterizations highlight Waugh's ear for the aristocratic mores of the
time. Fervent Anglophiles will be thrilled by this excellent rendition of
a favorite; Irons's reading saves this dinosaur from being suffocated by
its own weight.
from Publishers Weekly
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