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The most famous and autobiographical novel by the celebrated English author Evelyn Waugh. A story of reflection, returning to a ‘golden age’ of good times between the first and second world wars.

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452 pages

‘Brideshead Revisited’ is considered the most famous and autobiographical of novels by the celebrated English author Evelyn Waugh. Written whilst the writer was on army leave it remains reflective of youth, returning to a ‘golden age’ of good times which the author experienced between the wars.

Written in 1945, ‘Brideshead Revisited’ tells the story of Charles Flyte and his carefree years of youth at Oxford, his infatuation with the Flyte family and the rapidly disappearing world of privilege that they inhabit. Divided into three parts with a prologue and epilogue this classic is a wonderful escape novel that takes its reader into Charles’s aspirational days of youth - his romantic friendship at college in Oxford, summers at Brideshead Castle with his best friend Sebastian and an introduction into the eccentric Flyte family. As the novel moves into Book 2, some years later, more time is spent with the Flyte family. Whilst Sebastian’s objective is to travel and run away from life, Charles forms even closer relationships with the family. At the same time love interest and parliamentarian, Rex Mottram who represents new wealth is closing in on Sebastian’s sister Julia, just as old money, that has been squandered especially by the patriarch, Lord Marchmain, is running out. Through Charles’s storytelling we witness the stately home, Brideshead, become a struggling institution that is out of step with the country and inevitably doomed. Bringing us back full circle, the final section of the book brings the reader to the beginning when Charles began his story of reflection from the campsite set up in the grounds of very home in which he grown to love.

Religion is a recurring theme in the novel as Charles struggles with the Flyte family’s preoccupation with catholicism and 'divine grace'. As an atheist, Charles is equally obsessed with challenging their faith and the family’s own angst and beliefs as they face darker times. Love and relationships are also a strong thread in the narrative and a theme that tugs at the heart strings between friends and family, revealing a sense of regret and sadness that again we as readers might recognise as we reflect on our own younger selves.

‘Brideshead Revisited’ secured popular acclaim in the ‘80s with a TV serial starring Jeremy Irons, Anthony Andrews and Lawrence Olivier. It has subsequently been recognised as one of the greatest literary adaptions and one that closely follows Waugh’s narrative and dialogue. Whether you are reading the novel for first time or with some memories of the hit TV series, this is a classic that remains relevant, offering up plenty of discussion in book club as well as an excuse to indulge in introspection and an appreciation of our own lost youth and the spirit of 'good times'.

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