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The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh
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The Loved One (original 1948; edition 1999)

by Evelyn Waugh

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2,322442,716 (3.88)126
Member:nikkilee214
Title:The Loved One
Authors:Evelyn Waugh
Info:Back Bay Books (1999), Paperback, 164 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:Fiction, British Literature, English Literature, 20th Century Literature, 20th Century British Literature, 20th Century English Literature

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The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh (1948)

1940s (16) 20th century (71) 20th century literature (16) British (51) British fiction (11) British literature (56) California (14) classic (26) classics (15) comedy (15) death (35) England (15) English (32) English literature (51) Evelyn Waugh (12) fiction (477) Folio Society (26) funerals (18) Hollywood (30) humor (80) literature (75) novel (106) own (13) paperback (12) read (44) satire (119) to-read (18) unread (19) USA (13) Waugh (21)
  1. 10
    God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut (hazzabamboo)
    hazzabamboo: Both are funny satires of America - Waugh is more vicious.
  2. 10
    The American Way of Death by Jessica Mitford (Booksloth)
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Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
What a peculiar book. I hadn't read an Evelyn Waugh for the first time since I was at school: was his humour usually quite this dark, sick even? Bits of Decline and Fall would have been distinctly dubious these days, I remember thinking, (schoolmasters and schoolboys) but it was par for the course of class and time etc, rather than bizarre (morticians in LA isn't usual Waugh-world). Though in my late teens the delicacy of my reading sensibilities was at an all-time low, so perhaps I missed things before.

Anyway, I found a lot of The Loved One very funny, including at least one comment which another GR reviewer objected to. The ridiculousness of the names tops his other work too: Aimee Thanatogenos, Mr Joyboy - and these people are as weird as they sound.

Those who might be upset by the mere idea of callousness or poor practice at pet crematoria probably shouldn't read this. (Really, I do know what it's like to be very upset by the death of a pet, and I wouldn't conscion simply binning a deceased animal, but I've always found the idea of pet undertakers quite absurd. A fine way to satirize the fixed-grin plastic decadence of nearly-1950s America.)
Nor should those who might mind characters' blase attitude and one-liners about other characters' deaths, including those self-inflicted. We shouldn't think too ill of them, after all, they have been hardened by recent service in the war: Others in gentler ages had had their lives changed by such a revelation; to Dennis it was the kind of thing he expected in the world he knew.

There's undoubtedly something here about the demise of the Empire, and it's very amusing to see tweedy old colonial gentlemen talking about the U.S. (and the standards expected of Brits out here) much as they would about India in other books. Most characters were sympathetic some of the time, and not at all at others, and needless to say, everyone is skewered at some point. Even the sort of character one absently thinks of as his own kind: Sir Ambrose Abercrombie wore tweeds, cape and deerstalker cap, the costume in which he had portrayed many travesties of English rural life. I particularly liked the way he makes embalmers and corpse-beauticians creepy; that whole related business of ceremonially viewing corpses is so undignified and medieval.

I ended up docking half a star for a plot device copied from a very well-known source (there's also a rather less-hackneyed reference to Nathanael West's Miss Lonelyhearts*), and the ending was a tad unsatisfying** and may or may not veer off the trajectory of the rest of the book. But otherwise I was so pleased with the weirdness of it all - weird in a way I'd never expected from Waugh, and very welcome after becoming exasperated with serious realist fiction in general.

* Miss Lonelyhearts is in Waugh's legacy library on LT.
** Aimee's death seems rather out of character, even if it does fit her name. She was so calmly calculating and determined to get ahead. She could have, say, climbed out of a ground floor window, to chime with a satirical theme of "these idiots do anything the press tells them" - and that's literally closer to Slump's advice. But then I'm not sure what I'd have done to end the story. Maybe she could have gone back East after faking her death? ( )
  antonomasia | Jun 16, 2014 |
In which Waugh again proves that the satisfactions of 'realistic' fiction are pretty pale compared to the satisfactions of vicious, spiteful, hate-filled satire. The characters, plot and setting are all paper thin, but that helps the book with it's main point, which is to make you laugh out loud and recognize the ugliness, stupidity and vanity of the world in general. There's nothing and nobody redeeming here. The Brits are snobs and/or morons; the Yanks are James-lite innocents with none of the charming homeliness of actual innocents in James novels. If nothing else, reading this book will give the this please: next time you hear an American conservative complain about a 'culture of death,' you'll be able to remember 'The Loved One,' smirk, and take pleasure in the fact that a genuine conservative would consider the American conservative to be a repulsive boil on the arse of humankind. ( )
1 vote stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
Absolutely love this satire of mid-1940s Los Angeles and the English ex-patriot community! The mortician Mr. Joyboy and his colleague Aimée Thanatogenos are a wonderful contrast to Dennis Barlow in Waugh's parody of Henry James' stereotypes of the Innocent American and Jaded European... ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 26, 2013 |
Very funny sarcastic look at Hollywood life and death. Evelyn Waugh pokes fun at both Americans and Brits. An enjoyable read, but lacking in depth. ( )
  Becky221 | Jun 4, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (17 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Evelyn Waughprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Addams, CharlesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Boyle, StuartIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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All day the heat had been barely supportable but at evening a breeze arose in the West, blowing from the heart of the setting sun and from the ocean, which lay unseen, unheard behind the scrubby foothills.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316926086, Paperback)

The prolific Waugh--an English novelist and satirist perhaps best known for Brideshead Revisited--described this slim, vicious comedy as "a little nightmare produced by the unaccustomed high living of a brief visit to Hollywood." The setting is the L.A. funeral industry, where Whispering Glades provides deluxe service to deceased stars and their families, and the Happier Hunting Ground does the same for dead pets. (At Whispering Glades, staff must refer to the corpses only as "Loved Ones.") The industry provides a perfect foil for Waugh's deadpan wit--and an apt metaphor for the movie business.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:06:31 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Mr. Joyboy, an embalmer, and Aimee, a crematorium cosmetician, find their romance complicated by the appearance of an English poet, Dennis Barlow.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141184248, 0141193492

 

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