With a new movie based on the book releasing this year, it seemed like a perfect time to revisit Brideshead Revisited. It is set in the years after WWI with Charles Ryder studying at Oxford. His father has provided a generous allowance; an older cousin provides good advice. Instead of putting his nose firmly to the grindstone, Charles develops an intense attachment to Sebastian Flyte, son of Lord Marchmain. Sebastian takes his friend to the family home, Brideshead Castle. Charles is agnostic, the Flyte family are devote Roman Catholics. Sebastian’s father did not return to the family after WWI, preferring life in sunny Italy with his mistress. Sebastian’s mother is devoted to her faith and determined to direct the lives of her four children. The Flyte family embraces dysfunctional with religious fervor. Charles life twines in and out of the Flyte family orbit. As the book opens, Charles is in the military in WWII arriving at Brideshead Castle, now used to billet soldiers and officers. Charles had thought he would never see Brideshead again, his involvement with the family set his feet on a path that has taken his life in unexpected directions. Waugh has a biting, sardonic wit; he writes with an undercurrent of sexual tension. Brideshead Revisited was Evelyn Waugh’s tome about faith. It mirrors much of Waugh’s personal life. He attended Oxford, had a close relationship with another student, married the grand-daughter of an Earl (actually two of them), converted to Catholicism, and served in WWII. Waugh was a Captain in the Marines, but having an impatient nature and lacking any common ground with his troops, his superiors feared he might be shot by his own men. He went on to be a commando and was involved in daring missions in Dakar, Libya and Crete. It was during the war that Evelyn Waugh turned his pen to Bridshead Revisited. (booksense)
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