August 25, 2010

Literary Pick (***)

Brideshead Revisited
-Evelyn Waugh

I began reading this book not knowing anything about it and the reason I chose it was because it kept resurfacing as a essential read on many Goodreads members lists. Since my goal is to hopefully read most, if not all highly regarded pieces of literature, I decided to give it a shot.
The prologue concerned me immediately. It reminded me of A Farewell To Arms, not a novel I particularly enjoyed. Also, when I started reading the first chapter it changed themes so drastically that I felt I was going to have issues with visualization, which normally happens to be the main reason I stop enjoying a book. If I have trouble visualizing scenes, themes and characters the story is usually a bust. I mean, who wouldn't need a little assistance visualizing a full grown man driving around with a teddy bear? Then this book went from having a semblance of Farewell to Arms to shades of The Great Gatsby... and I didn't enjoy The Great Gatsby at all either You should read my review for that one!). I was also having a little bit of trouble following the narration, and since I was only on chapter one, I felt discouraged. I didn't plan on abandoning it so I went online to do a bit of research to help familiarize myself with it's theme. I came across a movie clip of Brideshead Revisited (with Jeremy Irons) which I've never seen nor heard of before, and upon viewing a few minutes of it I got the visual I needed.
First of all, anything Jeremy Irons is in works for me, so it was very easy for me to imagine it's style, theme and mannerism.
It is one of those books you have to read carefully and pay close attention to at the beginning because it starts off unclear and complex, but the more I read it, the more I got into it, and I became quickly absorbed by the anxiety of Sebastian's drinking problem and all the family drama that followed thereafter. Other than that, the story is amazingly told. I think Waugh is one of the best writers I've experienced. Not since Nabokov has another writer been able to stimulate me so.
I could tell this book would be much better the second time around. I enjoyed how it challenged me at the beginning and I think Waugh's writing is beautifully succinct. There was nothing excessive about his style at all. It was perfect for it's subject matter. The story matched the tone of writing exquisitely.
I loved the way Waugh described the ship scene with the passengers becoming sea-sick. I don't think anyone else could have pulled it off in such a way that would've made me enjoy it so much.
This is the reason why I don't like giving up on books, because you never know which is going to capture you. I look forward to re-reading this one again down the road.
I don't know why this book seems to teeter between 3-4 stars to me..I feel like there's a lot of room to enjoy it even further with more reads.



Blogger Love and Literature said...

I completely agree with the three star rating for 'Brideshead Revisited'. I disagree with the common notion that this is Waugh's magnum opus for I think many of his other books significantly better. I particularly rate his society novels including 'A Handful of Dust' and 'Vile Bodies'.

September 28, 2010 at 12:16 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Well thank you very much for the recommendation. I was wondering what other works of Waugh's is as good or better than Brideshead Revisited.

September 28, 2010 at 12:44 PM  

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