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“ I should like to bury something precious in every place where I’ve been happy and then, when I’m old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember.”

What is this book about?

This book is nostalgia to the max. Our main character, Charles Ryder, is a soldier during the Second World War and suddenly finds himself at the house of his old friend Sebastian Flyte. They had met in college and immediately fall for each other, becoming friends and even more according to the undertones of the novel. Sebastian brings Charles to Brideshead, his large family home, during their college years and he becomes indefinitely intertwined with the entire Flyte household. While arriving at there again during the war, Ryder thinks back on the way the world was before all hell broke loose and how his life and that of the people living at Brideshead has changed.

Why is it boring?

This book loves to meander. I’m not sure if it is intended, but to me the slow, languid writing style really represented the ease of living that comes along with a life of wealth and privilege. Waugh isn’t one to shy away from nostalgic representations of English beauty and much of the novel is spent on descriptions of buildings, landscapes and people.

Who would you recommend it to?

Brideshead Revisited was written during the war by someone who actually fought in the war, which makes for an interesting perspective. Waugh wasn’t a great military man however, as he had an accident during parachute training. During his recovery he asked for unpaid leave to write this novel. Besides war the novel deals with Catholicism, so if you love reading about religious struggles, this is your jam. Also highly recommended for boys who still miss their teddy bears.

Why should I read it if it’s boring?!

If only for the truly awful, gaudy gift that Julia receives from her fiancee. The diamond encrusted turtle is looked at with wonder and amazement while the rich people ask if it will eat the same as a regular turtle. Waugh does an amazing job at showing the whims of the rich in their opulent era before the war. The war itself is mostly ignored by everyone living at Brideshead, thought of as an inconvenience that they’d rather not think about. Waugh’s tone and snark is very entertaining, especially when Charles has to interact with his father. All characters are shown in a light that highlights the ugly side of being rich but Waugh still gives them all some redeeming features and it is obvious that Charles loves every member of the Flyte family dearly. Brideshead Revisited is funnier than you’d imagine, but it wasn’t what I had expected. I thought the book would linger much more on Charles’ relationship with Sebastian and the repression of homosexuality (I have one of my teachers to blame for this), but most of the book is spent on Charles standing apart from everyone, even before the war, looking in on everyone’s lives and commenting on it instead of partaking in it. Because of this the novel felt distant and I found it hard to actually care for the characters. Brideshead Revisited is a good novel, expertly written, but not a classic I will find myself returning to.

Rating: 3,5/5

Author

Esmée de Heer is head honcho over at the Bored to Death book club website, writing the daily content and making sure the site stays up and running. She’s one of the founding sisters of the book club and enjoys reading and giving unsolicited love advice.

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