Wednesday 10 June 2009

Brideshead Revisited

It has taken some time, but I have at last finished Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. Reading it after seeing the excellent ITV series was an unexpected pleasure. Often, a novel puts its adaptation in the shade, but in this case the page and the screen seem to be perfectly in synch and there is almost no difference between them - they are the same beautiful, tragic account of Charles Ryder's involvement with the Flyte family. Perhaps it needs 11 hours of TV to properly convey 330 pages.

I had always been put off this book because I had heard it was just 'a story about a gay couple', but in the event this was simply not the case - to describe it that way would be to miss the point entirely, as well as overlooking the majority of the plot. It deals with the distance between people - distances of class and faith - and how life (and death) can surprise the most stubborn person as to how near or far they are from where they thought. Its elegant, if somewhat archaic, style lends a sense of immediacy to the past and I found the uncompromising ending strangely satisfying.

Certainly, it won't be everyone's cup of tea, but if you like the idea of a wonderfully sad period piece, Brideshead Revisited is well worth a read.


  1. Love all of Evelyn Waugh's books and Brideshead is right up there. Agree many people think it is just a novel about a 'gay couple' but this is really just a sub-sub plot. Glad you enjoyed it so much! Have a crack at Vile Bodies or Scoop - waspish and sharp yet highly amusing!

  2. I enjoyed Scoop - thought it was gentle and fun compared to the profound sadness of Brideshead - and I'll add Vile Bodies to my reading list.