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The Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  8,372 Ratings  ·  757 Reviews
Mr. Joyboy, an embalmer, and Aimee Thanatogenos, crematorium cosmetician, find their romance complicated by the appearance of a young English poet.
Paperback, 164 pages
Published November 30th 1977 by Back Bay Books (first published 1948)
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Ainsley kerr "The Loved One" is the euphemistic title used when discussing the newly deceased.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Paige
Jul 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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."
David
Apr 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Erica
Mar 24, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Vit Babenco
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What is this thing necrophilia? According to Evelyn Waugh it is a truly megalomaniac obsession with burying the dead. And The Loved One is a cynically murderous and hilarious… obituary.
“Our Grade A service includes several unique features. At the moment of committal, a white dove, symbolizing the deceased’s soul, is liberated over the crematorium.”
An authentic talent, applied properly, allows even death to become a cosmic triumphal event.
“Hair, skin and nails and I brief the embalmers for expres
...more
Elizabeth
Feb 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Paul
Apr 04, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour
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
Artfulreader
Satirical. Funny. Abrupt.
Antonomasia
Jun 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Cari
Aug 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: satire, death, 2010
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!
Velvetink
Jan 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, read-2009
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
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
I found this book slightly disturbing...it seemed to me that the point being made was that a life 'lived well' is often hidden behind a veil of conformity - that veil often being more important than happiness. My fist reading of Waugh, but not my last.
Vanessa
Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Chloe
Jan 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Justin Evans
Mar 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Jim
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: humor, reread, fiction
The Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy by Evelyn Waugh is in every way a hoot, though somewhat nasty withal. I cannot help but think that Waugh did not think much of Southern California. The nastiness creeps in where the two main Californians, Aimee Thanatogenos and Mr. Joyboy, are concerned. When the latter conspires with Dennis Barlow to have the former, who had committed suicide by swallowing cyanide, to be cremated sub rosa in a pet cemetery. Dennis takes the crown when he arranges to have ...more
Michael Perkins
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"They told me, Francis Hinsley, they told me you were hung
With red protruding eye-balls and black protruding tongue;
I wept as I remembered how often you and I
Had laughed about Los Angeles and now ’tis here you’ll lie;
Here pickled in formaldehyde and painted like a whore,
Shrimp-pink incorruptible, not lost nor gone before."
Viji  (Bookish endeavors)
Background

Evelyn Waugh got inspiration for this story when he visited Forest Lawn cemetery in the Hollywood during his visit to the U.S. to discuss the making of his bestseller 'Brideshead revisited' into a movie. He was,in his own words,obsessed with the cemetery and planned to write a long short story about it. At the Forest Lawn,cadavers were referred to as 'the loved ones' and that seems to be the inspiration for the title. There is also another interpretation that 'Aimee' translates into 'l
...more
Tfitoby
Apr 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: funny, lit
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
Gillian Kevern
I found this book years ago in a flea market in Yamaguchi. I was starved for English books and bought it without knowing anything about it (this was before kindle). It sat on my bookshelf in my apartment unread until now, mostly because I have a suspicion that I will not like classic authors, forgetting that books become classics because they are Really, Really Good (unless it is Tess of the D'Ubervilles because ... ugh). I loved The Loved One.

I had no expectations and knew nothing about the bo
...more
Licinia
Um enredo formado por personagens que vivem situações bizarras, mas extremamente divertidas. O livro é centrado no jovem poeta inglês Denis Barlow, que trabalha num cemitério de animais chamado Campo de Caça Mais Feliz. Encarregado de organizar o enterro de um amigo, o "ente querido" Denis apaixona-se pela americana Aimée Thanatogenos, maquilhadora de defuntos no " Os Prados Sussurantes", que era uma jovem muito insegura nos seus sentimentos que se correspondia com o Guru Brahmin, autor de famo ...more
Greg
Oct 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Bfisher
Aug 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
I read this 50 years ago, and thought that it was fairly funny then. On a re-read, I think that it is brilliant satire, of a very dark and bitter kind. Waugh's prose is superb.
James
Nov 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dustin Reade
Dec 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Luís C.
The Loved One Evelyn Waugh's ruthless comedy which speaks of a funeral home that functions like Disneyland.
In this scathing novel Waugh scarcely savings. The technical and metaphysical jargon funeral, the cynicism of the movie business, the portrait of the small American company, corpses littering the book, brought down by the sharp pen of the author. To say nothing of animal funerals put on a par with those of man. With this nonsense, Waugh's ruthless. The cape is in bursts and we are surprised
...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.
Rose
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
Nov 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library, 2012, satire
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.
Doug H
Apr 28, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun, accurate assessments.
Taryn
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a preface to the book, the author says that the cemeteries and characters in the story are not based on actual places and people. While I can't comment on the people, the cemetery, (Whispering Glades) is definitely based on a real place in Burbank. Also likely is the pet cemetery, Happier Hunting Grounds, to be a caricature if the Los Angeles Pet Memorial Park. (Yes, I've been there.) The pet cemetery was also in business long before Waugh wrote the novel.
You'll love this book if you don't m
...more
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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
More about Evelyn Waugh...

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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.” 21 likes
“Once you start changing a name, you see, there's no reason ever to stop. One always hears one that sounds better.” 10 likes
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