Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited is a book that completely took me by surprise. I picked it up knowing little about it, but wanting to read it after I had seen it on a “must read during your lifetime” list of books.
It does not have an epic storyline in the way that one might think of epic to describe The Lord of the Rings or The Chronicles of Narnia, but this is nonetheless epic literature: a masterpiece of complex story lines, characters, linguistics, and other fine literary embellishments. (Nor should a reader expect quite the same British romantics taste that they have found in works such as Pride and Prejudice or Emma.)
This scrumptiously British novel takes the reader into the times of World War I and World War II, narrated through the life of Charles Ryder. The book begins with Charles as a student at Oxford, spends a great deal of time where his life intersects with the diminishing world of the British aristocracy, and the final pages of the book find him serving in the British Army, pondering and revisiting.
Without adding further spoilers of my own (particularly, for the reader who has little idea of the plot–a great way to go into this), this book is definitely one to take it’s reader for quite a few twists and turns. A theme of redemption breaks through at the end, but not before leaving many casualties along the way.
For me it was not so much the plot, as it was the literary brilliance, that drew me in. This is definitely a book I hope to, pun intended, revisit.