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jackseney

Evelyn Waugh wrote in a "to the manor born" style not much distinguishable from that of old classic or Victorian British fiction. His books from the 1940s seem like throwbacks to pre-modernist days. By the time "Brideshead Revisited" was published, after too many people had done too many bad impressions of Joyce and Eliot, Waugh must have brought great relief to many. Along with another Roman Catholic, Graham Greene, Waugh was there to write good, philosophically flavored stories, and that was it. Here he provided a great yet simple tale of friendship between eccentric Oxford lads in the 1920s, looked back upon from the WWII era. They wander from England to Italy and deal with their odd families and relatives, while occasionally interrupting their rounds of partying to attempt a higher education. But anyone who envies the well-off will think twice about that once they meet Ryder's father, who is too cheap to loan him what amounts to pocket change, or Sebastian's, who fancies himself a Lord Byron type and finds the pursuit of this lifestyle more interesting than relating to his son, who is imitating his father to the point of self-destruction. Accordingly, the boys look to magic and wonder in any form they can find it for relief, with Ryder finding himself strangely drawn to the mystic Catholicism of Sebastian's family. Other characters weave smoothly in and out of the plot as if each were getting a short story of their own. Readers willing to slow down and take their time with this novel will find it to be a feast of excellent writing of all kinds. Best of all is the way that religion is handled - i.e., CONVINCINGLY, without any of the corny and over-sentimental dramatics to be found in a lot of Christian fiction today. Highly recommended for well-rounded, classicist reading.

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