It’s kind of hard to write this review, because I finished this book a while ago. I’ve been meaning to read Brideshead Revisited for a long time. I’ve not read anything else by Evelyn Waugh and to be honest, I don’t think I will.
No, I didn’t hate it. In theory this book sounds perfect. It has all the ingredients to make it a great book (to me anyway.) It starts in 1923 and concludes in 1943, it features an aristocratic family, a grand country house, the medieval colleges of Oxford… And yet I didn’t love it, I thought it was merely all right.
After a slow start, I found the plot to be very interesting and I was eager to keep reading. And it is of course, very well written. What bothered me is that I couldn’t understand why Charles (the narrator) was so fascinated by the Marchmains. They were certainly quirky characters, but I couldn’t see anything to justify how much his obsession consumed him.
Then again, the nature of his relationship with Sebastian was never made clear in the book. There were some hints of a homosexual relationship between him and Sebastian, but nothing definitive. That really bugged me. I just hated not knowing. In my opinion that would explain why Sebastian, unable to combine that with his religion, was so unhappy.
Catholicism is a large theme of the book, it’s the most significant influence in the big life choices of all the Marchmains, a fact I couldn’t relate to and found irritating. To be clear, I don’t have a problem with any religion, but the whole book was so steeped in theology it got kind of annoying. Of course, afterwards I read somewhere that the author had converted to Catholicism and the book was his attempt to express the Roman Catholic faith in secular literary form. And I suppose he really achieves that, but it wasn’t my cup of tea.
Have you read Brideshead Revisited? Am I just being grumpy by saying it was just ok? Can someone explain the teddy bear to me?