Dfordoom's Reviews > A Handful of Dust

A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh
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Apr 02, 08

Read in August, 2005

As you’d expect from Evelyn Waugh, A Handful of Dust is a very funny novel. But this is very black comedy. Written in 1934, this is a biting and at times quite cruel satire on the aimless, bored, empty and hedonistic and lifestyles of the upper classes and their hangers-on. The Depression has hit so many are feeling the pinch, including Tony Last as he tries desperately to hold on to the crumbling gothic pile that he loves so much. Meanwhile his wife, Lady Brenda, is bored. So bored that she starts an affair with the most worthless and shallow young man she can find. Everyone knows about the affair, apart from Tony. Waugh’s descriptions of the reactions of their friends and relatives who seem incapable of responding to anything in any manner other than amusement are both hilarious and savagely ironic. As events take a more tragic turn the irony becomes ever more vicious. And as events become more tragic, they become more and more absurd, leading from chic London parties to the Brazilian jungle. The ending is absolutely devastating. This one is darker in tone than his earlier books such as Vile Bodies. It is a masterpiece of social satire and of tragi-comedy, and I recommend it very highly.
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