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The Loved One (20th Century Classics)
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The Loved One (20th Century Classics)

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  6,266 ratings  ·  490 reviews
Following the death of a friend, the poet and pets' mortician Dennis Barlow finds himself entering the artificial Hollywood paradise of the Whispering Glades Memorial Park. Within its golden gates, death, American-style, is wrapped up and sold like a package holiday-and Dennis gets drawn into a bizarre love triangle with Aimée Thanatogenos, a naïve Californian corpse beaut...more
Published (first published 1948)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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David
My appreciation of Evelyn Waugh's The Loved One is authentic, sure, but at the same time a little reserved because, try as I might, I can't convincingly revise my initial impression of it as a cheap shot at American life and values -- which isn't to say that it isn't funny or compelling or entertaining, but rather that in the considerable chunk of time separating us from the initial publication of The Loved One (this time marking the ascendancy of the United States on the global stage both polit...more
Paige
The copy I had of this was used, and had underlines where the previous reader would note in the margin "funny," and "ha." This reader stopped doing this by the third or fourth page, either because s/he no longer found it funny, or it became absurd to underline all passages and mark them as "ha." I think most readers will fall into either of these categories. I am in "ha."
Erica
Evelyn Waugh is my guilty pleasure. His books are like candy, they are so easy to read. But if they are candy, they are lemon drops coated with arsenic. Waugh's bitter, sarcastic, and completely devastating portraits of humanity warm my heart. His characters destroy each other's lives so casually, and I love it.

In The Loved One, Waugh takes on L.A. British neocolonial snobbery in post-war Southern California, set in a Disneyesque funeral home (actually a "memorial park") and a much less classy...more
Paul
Brief, satirical and rather funny novel about the American funeral industry. Waugh visited California in 1947; he didn't like it, finding the tendency of the "lower orders" to ask personal questions rather irritating. Waugh was a snob and it shows.
It is funny in parts. The love triangle is very amusing; this isn't the intense YA/vampire type. It involves Aimee Thanatogenos, who works at Whispering Glades, a funeral emporium. She does cosmetic work on the corpses. One of her beaus is the wonderf...more
Cari
Waugh has the dry, underhanded wit that I adore, the sly sort of humor that can be easily missed by the distracted or the terminally stupid. And as morbid as it may be, the scene surrounding the preparations for the Loved One's final arrangements had me laughing out loud through the duration, a perfect lampooning of the industry. Brilliant!
Elizabeth
The last couple of pages of this book made me chuckle. It's not everyday that you read a book about a cosmetician for the dead, an embalmer, and a pet cemetery employee with a poetic bent. The Hollywood Forever cemetery holds new meaning for me now.
Justin Evans
In which Waugh again proves that the satisfactions of 'realistic' fiction are pretty pale compared to the satisfactions of vicious, spiteful, hate-filled satire. The characters, plot and setting are all paper thin, but that helps the book with its main point, which is to make you laugh out loud and recognize the ugliness, stupidity and vanity of the world in general. There's nothing and nobody redeeming here. The Brits are snobs and/or morons; the Yanks are James-lite innocents with none of the...more
Antonomasia
Jul 12, 2014 Antonomasia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Six Feet Under?
Recommended to Antonomasia by: a will-o-the-wisp
What a peculiar book. I hadn't read an Evelyn Waugh for the first time since I was at school: was his humour usually quite this dark, sick even? Bits of Decline and Fall would have been distinctly dubious these days, I remember thinking, (schoolmasters and schoolboys) but it was par for the course of class and time etc, rather than bizarre (morticians in LA isn't usual Waugh-world). Though in my late teens the delicacy of my reading sensibilities was at an all-time low, so perhaps I missed thing...more
Tfitoby
My fourth experience of Waugh and once more I was not disappointed. This fun little novella is filled with Waugh staples; mean Brits abroad and parodies of the natives. Only this time it is a people and a place we have all come to be too familiar with over the last 70 years, Los Angeles, USA.

He writes quite beautifully, filling paragraphs with sentences of exquisite composition that always achieve their aim; whether that be to make you laugh, shock or create a credible absurdity in your mind. Th...more
Chloe
Jan 24, 2008 Chloe rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a morbid sense of humor.
Recommended to Chloe by: Rosie
While not my favorite book in the world, I have to say I enjoyed this macabre little satire. Perhaps the somewhat unusual humor appealed to me. I tend to find such things as funeral parlors and crematoriums amusing. I do not, however, find the story to be quite as condescending towards Americans as some people have said it was. The British characters were not especially intelligent, either. In fact, I would say that there are no attractive characters in the story. Which is part of the reason why...more
James
This is a firecracker of a novella. Satirical sparks fly from the get-go, lighting up the social and cultural pretensions of all involved: Brits and Yanks. This is NOT just a piece of still-colonial, British transatlantic snobbery. The Brits here are as loathsome, self serving and corruptible and corrupting as the Americans. If anything, you suspect Waugh loathes them more: they knowingly sacrifice their personal talents and culture to serve 'cod art' - aka Hollywood. After all, the most cynical...more
Lea
I'm not really sure what to make of this book. I found it lighter and funnier than A Handful of Dust, but I didn't enjoy it quite as well. I think most of the satire just went right over my head; I really am pure American -- although I usually enjoy British humour, I identified more easily with the overly sincere and gauche American characters than with the British ones. Too bad, because I have the sense that it's probably riotously funny if you "get" it.
Dustin Reade
Dec 08, 2011 Dustin Reade rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: just about anyone
Firstly, I shall discuss the plot: A young Englishman in America--whom is not respected by his compatriots due to the unfortunate fact that he works at, and enjoys working at, a Hollywood Pet Cemetery. He falls in love with a young woman whom happens to work for the lush and expansive Human cemetery as a cosmetician. She also happens to be in a semi-committed relationship with the Human Cemetery's Head Embalmer, Mr. Joyboy.
The book is filled with English wit, rapid fire dialogue, satire (Waugh...more
Fraser Kinnear
Hilarious! And a very quick read. I hadn't read Waugh before, and just assumed early on in the book that the formality all of the characters present themselves in was just reflective of the world Waugh lived in and wrote about. All the better when these pretenses are demolished by moments of candor and silliness.

I found that I dog-eared and marked up the latter half of the book, while the front half was something I had to mostly be patient getting through, like the set up for a great joke. Waugh...more
Velvetink
Satire on the funeral business, in which a young British poet goes to work at a Hollywood cemetery. I had seen the 1965 movie of the same name by director Tony Richardson and Richardson seems to have followed the script quite well.

The Loved One is full of sly, macabre humour, and some of the funniest scenes occur when Aimee goes home with Mr. Joyboy to meet his mother–a miserable woman whose bosom companion is a naked parrot named Sambo. The Loved One is one of the oddest novels in the English l...more
Angela
A delightful English send up of Southern California that sixty-odd years later could just as easily apply to most of the US, The Loved One attacks everything from veggie burgers to Americans' lack of familiarity with classic writing to a larger-than-life death industry for humans and pets alke to faux-Eastern religion. It's an entertaining and charming (if slightly macabre) novella with fairly one-dimensional characters and a wildly over the top plot, but the satire of both Hollywood and English...more
Rose
Sep 07, 2009 Rose added it
Shelves: 2009, fiction
I remember really liking this when I read it about 6 or 7 years ago (reading it in the bath in some American hotel - strange I remember that). I have a lot on my currently reading list at the minute, but I just can't cope with super-info-heavy books like The Fall of Yugoslavia when I'm in the bath, eating, or otherwise not equipped to scribble down notes in an attempt to understand the highly complex Baltic machinations.
Laura
I have actually wanted to read this for a long time. I had no idea what I was getting into. The was a fantastically hilarious book....in a snarky snide dark gallows humor manner...I simply ADORED it.
Vanessa
I've only read one Evelyn Waugh book before this one, A Handful of Dust. And what did I think of it? Well honestly, I hated it. However, I couldn't resist picking up this little novel in the library the other day. I was looking for a short, quick read, and the cool Quentin Blake artwork on the front cover and interesting blurb on the back really drew me in.

This is an odd little story, about a young English poet and pets' mortician named Dennis Barlow who becomes involved with a not-so-traditiona...more
Ira Bespalova
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ken
In the hand of any other writer, a macabre little book such as this would come across as overwrought and fall apart from too much nudging and winking at the reader. But only a Brit of Evelyn Waugh’s superb wit and writing prowess could concoct a story of death, cemeteries, suicide, and Hollywood that expertly skewers the American way of life (and the writer’s own countrymen).

Whenever a discussion of satirical novels comes up, the two masterpieces I always think of are Terry Southern’s Blue Movie...more
Frederick
About two-thirds of the way through this novella (which is what this novel is) a character comments on Henry James's penchant for describing innocent Americans facing jaded Europeans. This novel (novella, I mean), about a European (or Englishman, which is a different thing, actually) among Americans seems to me to be a spin on Henry James. To its last sentence it is Jamesian, although the prose is much simpler.
For a guy who has a tin ear when it comes to American dialogue, Waugh certainly observ...more
Trevor
There is a film to this, which I haven't seen, but think I would have liked to.

This is Waugh's where else but America book.

Imagine the sort of book an Englishman would write about living in LA and working in a funeral parlour for animals who fancies a local woman who works in a funeral parlour for people and sends her poetry he has written, just for her - you know - like Shall I compare thee... Yes, the underlying assumption is that the Americans are a bit simple and a bit thick, and the Brits...more
Greg
Evelyn Waugh at his best. His observation of the English sensibility offset against that of the American, both mutually enhanced in the world of Hollywood and Los Angeles, are told with a superb balance of black humour and beautiful, if stinging, observation. There is so much in these pages. Added to the mix is the satire of how Hollywood looks at death, blurring reality and fantasy and dreams.

The characters are from various class backgrounds, and all are like a Hollywood backdrop facade, none a...more
David Anderson
Waugh's dry, understated wit is a treat, though I think it works better when he focuses it on the British upper classes. This satire on Hollywood and the American funeral home business is a gas, but I think Tony Richardson's film adaptation, with screenplay co-authored by Terry Southern of Dr. Strangelove fame, is actually superior. This material simply screams for Southern's outrageous, over-the-top approach. But even Waugh approaches that level at times, as these verses demonstrate:

They told m...more
Kathleen
The Loved One is an unexpected pleasure. I was expecting something drier, more British (though 'tis very British) and more difficult to read. Waugh's satire perfectly sends up Los Angeles and its funeral industry. It helps to have been to Forest Lawn to appreciate the pure ridiculousness of Waugh's work.
Alex
This is fiercely funny satire, a very quick read, and tightly written. Waugh is scathing to the point of being callous, and one can imagine an acute sneer on his face as he penned this one. The end left me feeling cold, but I suppose that's an emotion. Right?
Eliza
5/17/2013: This novel came at me out of left field; even though I understood the context and tone, language and highly ironic humor, still, TLO is so very different from novels that I hang out with that it took my by surprise. More importantly, reading it reminded me that I should get out of my cozy nest of narrative choices more often. The novel is dark and hilarious, over the top but still too close to home, articulate, spare, and classy. All of that, yet with a premise and plot so ridiculous...more
Manda
A viciously funny satire of the American pre-packaged lifestyle, The Loved One takes place in postwar Los Angeles. Waugh puts his Oxonian wit to good use here, as even the name of his tragic heroine, Aimee Thanatogenos, is in itself a wickedly funny little in-joke. Thanatogenos translates to something roughly meaning "Family of Death" (I say roughly, I took Latin in college, not Greek), which suits her as she's fully indoctrinated into the cult of death at Whispering Glades, the mortuary establi...more
Jessica
I got so wrapped up in The Loved One that I couldn't put it down after getting off the train and read it WHILE I walked home. Don't worry, I looked up for intersections!

The Loved One is a comedy framed by suicides and enacted almost exclusively in funeral parlors. Dennis Barlow is a displaced English poet living in Hollywood, who works for a funeral parlor for pets - the Happier Hunting Ground. He falls in love with the absurdly, appropriately named Aimée Thanatogenos, cosmetician for the fancie...more
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Comic Book Club: The Loved One 15 20 Nov 27, 2011 03:33PM  
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Evelyn Waugh's father Arthur was a noted editor and publisher. His only sibling Alec also became a writer of note. In fact, his book “The Loom of Youth” (1917) a novel about his old boarding school Sherborne caused Evelyn to be expelled from there and placed at Lancing College. He said of his time there, “…the whole of English education when I was brought up was to produce prose writers; it was al...more
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“Her heart was broken perhaps, but it was a small inexpensive organ of local manufacture. In a wider and grander way she felt things had been simplified.” 16 likes
“Once you start changing a name, you see, there's no reason ever to stop. One always hears one that sounds better.” 6 likes
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