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Favourite Authors > Evelyn Waugh

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message 1: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4616 comments Mod
Probably equally famous for his comic novels, like Scoop and Decline and Fall and for the deeply nostalgic masterpiece Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder, famously filmed for TV in the 1980s.

Evelyn Waugh

Waugh is a controversial personality but hugely popular. Which books of his have you read, and which are your favourites?


message 2: by Leslie (last edited Oct 22, 2017 02:13PM) (new)

Leslie Judy wrote: "Waugh is a controversial personality but hugely popular. Which books of his have you read, and which are your favourites?"

I really like Waugh's comic novels but enjoy his writing in all his work that I have read:

Decline and Fall
Scoop
A Handful of Dust
The Loved One (hilarious!)
Vile Bodies
Put Out More Flags
Black Mischief
Brideshead Revisited

and some of his short stories in The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh. These I felt were not as satisfying as his novels...


message 3: by Miss M (new)

Miss M | 25 comments The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh by Charlotte Mosley
The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh
is a fun read if you're in the mood for gossip...
(Same with the Diana Cooper letters.)


message 4: by Pamela (new)

Pamela (bibliohound) | 521 comments I've read Brideshead Revisited and loved it, and Scoop which I disliked intensely.


message 5: by Haaze (new)

Haaze | 146 comments I'm very much a Waugh neophyte. Is Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder the place to start if I ever embark on a Waugh journey?


message 6: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Haaze wrote: "I'm very much a Waugh neophyte. Is Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder the place to start if I ever embark on a Waugh journey?"

It is probably his most famous book. Probably it is a good place to start though his satires are quite different in style.

Pamela wrote: "I've read Brideshead Revisited and loved it, and Scoop which I disliked intensely."

Although I personally liked Scoop quite a lot, I can see how it might not be likeable for others. Humor is very hit or miss I find.


message 7: by Nigeyb (last edited Oct 22, 2017 11:13PM) (new)

Nigeyb | 9974 comments Mod
Coincidentally the the other day I decided to try and rank the Evelyn Waugh books I've read so far in order of preference, and here it is...

1. Sword of Honour
2. Brideshead Revisited
3. A Handful of Dust
4. Scoop
5. Decline and Fall
6. Put Out More Flags
7. Black Mischief

I absolutely adored Sword of Honour and Brideshead Revisited


message 8: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10168 comments Mod
In Six Minutes in May: How Churchill Unexpectedly Became Prime Minister, which I am currently reading, they mention some of the real life people that Waugh based characters on in The Sword of Honour Trilogy. This includes the magnificent Brigadier Ben Ritchie-Hook (probably based on Lieutenant General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart). Having lost an eye and a hand in the First World War he refused to wear injury stripes, saying, "any damn fool" could see he had been injured and, when he lost his hand, refused to leave the trench, pulling the pins out of grenades with his teeth and lobbing them at the enemy!


message 9: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4616 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "In Six Minutes in May: How Churchill Unexpectedly Became Prime Minister, which I am currently reading, they mention some of the real life people that Waugh based characters on in [b..."

That's fascinating, Susan, thanks for sharing.

Nigeyb, I also adored Brideshead Revisited and really liked A Handful of Dust and Sword of Honour too. It's a long time since I read Scoop, but I must revisit it - I worked in journalism for many years, though at a safe desk in a local newspaper, not as a war correspondent!


message 10: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Nigeyb wrote: "Coincidentally the the other day I decided to try and rank the Evelyn Waugh books I've read so far in order of preference, and here it is...

1. Sword of Honour..."


This trilogy is on my TBR - I look forward to reading it sometime, hopefully soon!


message 11: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10168 comments Mod
The trilogy is absolutely brilliant, Leslie. I think I may have liked it even more than Bridehead, although that has a special place in my heart as it is the first of his novels that I read.


message 12: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9974 comments Mod
I look forward to discovering your reaction Leslie. I can only echo Susan's comments about Sword of Honour, it is indeed absolutely brilliant.

Evelyn Waugh did not have 'a good war' as a soldier however he was able to transmute his uncomfortable personal experience into something wonderful. Through Guy Crouchback, the detached observer and would-be knight, who mistakenly believes his private honour will be satisfied by war, Evelyn Waugh perfectly captures the bureaucracy, pettiness, absurdity, humour, and confusion of war. It all rings true with numerous little details that make Sword of Honour so satisfying.

It's everything that great literature should be - beautifully written, evocative, poignant, funny, tragic and profound.


message 13: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10168 comments Mod
Nigeyb, you might be interested in my earlier post about Six Minutes in May: How Churchill Unexpectedly Became Prime Minister about the real life 'Ben Ritchie-Hook.'


message 14: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9974 comments Mod
Thanks Susan - yes indeed, that sounds like a book I must read.


message 15: by Haaze (new)

Haaze | 146 comments Perhaps we will encounter some of Waugh's works in the reading group as time passes by?


message 16: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9974 comments Mod
I feel sure we will Haaze


message 17: by Haaze (new)

Haaze | 146 comments Did he write a lot of short stories as well?


message 18: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10168 comments Mod
There is a volume of short stories Complete Short Stories. I haven't actually read those, but I do really like his travel books. He has also written some biographies, but I haven't read those either. However, I feel sure that Waugh, at some point, will certainly figure in this group. I keep meaning to read his new biography Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited


message 19: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10168 comments Mod
I just realised that, even for one author, there is SO much I still need to read and want to read and must read! Oh, for endless reading time...


message 20: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9974 comments Mod
And of course his non-fiction is wonderful too (well, the bits and pieces I have read so far).

His less celebrated brother, Alec Waugh, was no slouch either when it came to penning some great fiction and non-fiction.


message 21: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10168 comments Mod
Absolutely. I have loved the non-fiction books I have read by him, but haven't read any of his fiction yet. He wrote his first novel while a POW in WWI if I remember correctly?


message 22: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9974 comments Mod
Nigeyb wrote: "And of course his non-fiction is wonderful too (well, the bits and pieces I have read so far)."

I read 'Labels' a few years ago in which we join Evelyn Waugh on a trip around the Mediterranean in 1929: he travels from Europe to the middle east and north Africa.

Waugh chose the name 'Labels' for this, his first travel book, because he thought the places he visited were already 'fully labelled' in people's minds. Despite this, he brings a fresh and entertaining perspective to all that he encounters. His pen captures the local colour and the amusing idiosyncrasies of being a tourist. The writing is a delight, and each page is full of fun, amusing anecdotes, and incident. Even when he is bored, he still manages to write about it entertainingly. I look forward to reading more of his travel books, and more of his non-fiction.

Three things particularly struck me about this book:

1. The style is very chatty, humorous and self-deprecating, which is completely as odds with his misanthropic reputation.

2. His innate snobbishness results in some outrageous humour. For example, the cruise ship on which Waugh travels, occasionally encounters another cruise ship favoured by German tourists. He describes this ship as 'vulgar' with inhabitants who are all 'unbelievably ugly Germans' albeit 'dressed with great courage and enterprise e.g. One man wearing a morning coat, white trousers and a beret'.

3. By focussing on various minor details of his travels, Waugh provides the modern reader with all kinds of fascinating insights into tourism and travel in 1929. For example, the book starts with Waugh was taking a flight to Paris - he was one of only two passengers in a tiny plane, and this mode of transport was very new and unusual at the time. His detailed description of the experience is very informative about the early years of air passenger travel.

A very enjoyable read and, at a mere 174 pages, pleasingly quick and easy to read.

Mrs. K. A. Wheatley on Amazon.co.uk wrote a splendid review of Labels: A Mediterranean Journal (Published in US as 'A Bachelor Abroad') by Evelyn Waugh...

What a great book. Evelyn Waugh is more famous for books like Brideshead Revisited and A Handful of Dust, both of which are fairly tragic. He also wrote satirical, dark comedies like Scoop and The Loved One. This is a non-fiction book in which he attempts the travel genre, with in my view, stunning success. He ambles about using a cruise ship to transport him wherever his whims take him, commenting upon some of the usual sights you would expect, but also taking in local peculiarities, and more importantly people watching.

He has a wonderful turn of phrase and a delightfully irreverent approach to his commentary, he often addresses the reader directly, which makes for a much more conversational, intimate journey for the reader. He takes in the delights of France, Greece, Italy, Egypt and Algeria to name but a few. His dialogue about discovering the works of Gaudi in Barcelona is particularly charming and enthusiastic and his juxtaposition of the serious and silly works beautifully.

This is a book of its time, and in this way reminded me very much of the travel books of Lawrence Durrell which I also loved. It is worth reading, not because you will ever be able to retrace his steps, but precisely because you won't, and you are able to enter into a unique series of snapshots of a bygone era. Delightful.



message 23: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 420 comments So far I've read Brideshead (liked this more on my second read), Scoop, Decline and Fall- Vile Bodies, Handful of Dust, and the Diaries are on my TBR.


message 24: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10168 comments Mod
Of the novels, I have read Decline and Fall, Vile Bodies, Brideshead Revisited, Scoop, Black Mischief, Sword of Honour Trilogy and The Loved One. I want to read A Handful of Dust, which is, I believe, his 'revenge'novel about his first wife, She-Evelyn.


message 25: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4616 comments Mod
A Handful of Dust is excellent, Susan- the nearest to the Brideshead mood out of his other books that I’ve read so far.


message 26: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10168 comments Mod
Yes, I think I have put it off because it is supposed to be quite sad - in that it is a turning point between his 'comedy' novels and his more 'serious' side and because he was so obviously hurt. Apparently, it shocked his contemporaries quite a lot as the characters were quite obvious.


message 27: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10168 comments Mod
As the group is off to such a flying start, we thought it might be a nice idea to have a buddy read for next month. So, in November, if anyone would like to join in, we are planning to read The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh

This novella length (127 page) read is a great introduction to the writing of Evelyn Waugh.

Synopsis: Following the death of a friend, British 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. There, Dennis enters the fragile and bizarre world of Aimée, the naïve Californian corpse beautician, and Mr Joyboy, the master of the embalmer's art...

A dark and savage satire on the Anglo-American cultural divide, The Loved One depicts a world where love, reputation and death cost a very great deal.

The thread for The Loved One will open in November. We hope lots of you join in and, even if you don't get the chance to read along, then come and join in the discussion anyway!


message 28: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 420 comments Susan wrote: "As the group is off to such a flying start, we thought it might be a nice idea to have a buddy read for next month. So, in November, if anyone would like to join in, we are planning to read [book:T..."

Sounds good- and its short as well. I'll try and fit this in.


message 29: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10168 comments Mod
Great to hear, Lady. Even if you don't manage to read it (and it IS really short everyone) then join in the chat anyway :)


message 30: by Lady Clementina (new)

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 420 comments Susan wrote: "Great to hear, Lady. Even if you don't manage to read it (and it IS really short everyone) then join in the chat anyway :)"

I will- I have a copy so I should be able to.


message 31: by Bronwyn (last edited Oct 25, 2017 05:40AM) (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 373 comments I think I've read pretty much all of Waugh's novels apart from the Sword of Honor trilogy and Gilbert Pinfold (all of which I have, just haven't gotten to yet)... Let's see, I've read: Brideshead Revisited, A Handful of Dust, Scoop, Vile Bodies, Decline and Fall, The Loved One, Black Mischief, Put Out More Flags, and Helena, as well as The Complete Stories, which is really good too; it includes his childhood writings as well.

I've also read Mad World, about him and the inspiration for Brideshead. I also own either When the Going Was Good or A Little Learning (I'm blanking on which right now), and Evelyn Waugh and His World, but haven't read either of those yet.

I've been meaning to reread some of him (I think I've only reread Decline and Fall, maybe Vile Bodies...) (eta: Oh, I have sort of reread The Loved One previously when my husband was listening to it on a long drive, but I wasn't really paying attention so don't really count it), so I'm looking forward to The Loved One discussion. We have the audiobook of it so I'll be able to join in for sure. :) (The library has a few others that we don't have personally, so I'm hoping to reread all they have too.)


message 32: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10168 comments Mod
Good to hear you can join in, Bronwyn :) I also read Mad World, but was a bit annoyed that I got the kindle edition and it had no illustrations...


message 33: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 373 comments Oh no! That's too bad. I will say, that's the bad part of listening to non-fiction on audiobook, there's usually pictures that I can't see. How annoying for it to be an ebook and not have pictures!


message 34: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10168 comments Mod
I suppose you can google them, but it's hard when you don't see exactly the pictures the author might be referring to.


message 35: by BrokenTune (new)

BrokenTune | 4 comments Pamela wrote: "I've read Brideshead Revisited and loved it, and Scoop which I disliked intensely."

LoL. I have had a similar experience - liked Brideshead, loved Vile Bodies, but could not stand Scoop (or Decline and Fall).

I am looking to re-read Brideshead this winter to see if my appreciation of it has changed over the last 15 years.


message 36: by LindaH (new)

LindaH | 16 comments I joined but forgot to click the Notifications setting. Sigh. Catching up... I am new to Waugh but so many of the books mentioned in this thread sound good to me. I will eagerly read The Loved One with others...that is, if you’ll accept someone who was four in Southern California when this book was published.


message 37: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10168 comments Mod
We will happily accept, and hopefully make you feel welcome you to the group, Linda. I think it is more if you can put up with Waugh's rather jaundiced view of California, but if you are OK with that then that's fine :) Although, to be fair, he isn't usually complementary about anybody really! Good to hear that you like the sound of the group and we hope to have lots of great books, themes and ideas planned.


message 39: by LindaH (new)

LindaH | 16 comments I’m okay with “jaundiced view of California “. Really curious. I seem to remember hearing or reading about this book while still living there...maybe a reference in some local context.


message 40: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10168 comments Mod
Or some local cemetary? You can possibly tell us which is the real 'Whispering Glades'? I have to admit googling and I suspect it is the 'Hollywood Forever Cemetary.' I was trying to think of a UK comparable, but could only come up with Westminster Abbey.


message 41: by Bronwyn (new)

Bronwyn (nzfriend) | 373 comments I want to say it's based on Forest Lawn... But I don't remember why I think that.


message 42: by Leslie (new)

Leslie Bronwyn wrote: "I want to say it's based on Forest Lawn... But I don't remember why I think that."

Yes it is based on Forest Lawn. Like Bronwyn, I don't recall how I know that but am definite about it in my own mind. Maybe it said so on the book jacket - as I read it as a library book I can't check now.


message 43: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 30 comments Wikipedia says it was Forest Lawn. I'm not including the link, because the article describes the whole plot, which might spoil the book for people.


message 44: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10168 comments Mod
Thanks, I will certainly google Forest Lawn and have a look :)


message 45: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10168 comments Mod
Oh, I just watched the 'Overview Video.' I will save thoughts for the discussion... It might have been better had I watched it before reading the novel though!


message 46: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9974 comments Mod
Susan wrote: "Oh, I just watched the 'Overview Video.' I will save thoughts for the discussion... It might have been better had I watched it before reading the novel though!"

So are you recommending readers watch the video before reading the novel Susan?


message 47: by Susan (new)

Susan | 10168 comments Mod
No, I meant that, having read the novel, it made me laugh!


message 48: by Judy (new)

Judy (wwwgoodreadscomprofilejudyg) | 4616 comments Mod
I just came across an interesting article about Waugh's first marriage - warning though, this does mention a couple of plot twists in A Handful of Dust:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/what...

This makes me want to read Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited by Philip Eade.


message 49: by Nigeyb (new)

Nigeyb | 9974 comments Mod
Judy wrote: "This makes me want to read Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited by Philip Eade"

I'm drawn by that particular biography too Judy. Last year it was a Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4. I listened to all five episodes and thoroughly enjoyed them all and concluded that the book would be well worth reading.

I had been completely unaware of his later life. A very happy marriage and seven children, this despite his well known irascibility and curmudgeonly ways.


message 50: by Marcus (new)

Marcus Vinicius | 67 comments Thanks for the article, Judy. I just finished reading The Loved. One and liked it a lot. Wanna know if there is an specific book by E. Waugh to read further.


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