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Waugh's novel is rich in textures with truly brilliant turns of phrase suddenly appearing out of nowhere. Given that a substantial portion of the novel takes part in the 1920s, comparisons with [The Great Gatsby] are inevitable. However, the work has a distinct flavour, not only because sections occur during the 1930s and WWII, but because Charles Ryder's development is far more rich than Fitzgerald's narrator. The characters are fascinating from Sebastian and his teddy-bear, Aloysius, to Lady Marchmain and her devout Catholicism to Julia and her sparkling sadness. Ryder's attempts to understand and bond with these last standard-bearers of a society that is disappearing is equally intriguing. A novel that glimmers with the glamours of a bygone era and a reminder that "we possess nothing certainly but the past."

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