About 10 years ago I saw the 80’s mini-series of Brideshead Revisited, starring Jeremy Irons, and really fell in love with the story. Since then I have read other Evelyn Waugh novels, but finally got around to reading this one. At first it was hard not to picture what I had seen on the television, but as I read I got wrapped up in the beautiful prose, the choices of the characters, and the elegance of the formality and manners of the time period (1920’s and 30’s England).
This is a religious novel, not because it delineates theology, but because it tells the story of a Catholic family, their weaknesses, and their adherence to the beauty of their faith, even though they may not understand it fully or be particularly good at it. Life is so filled with mystery, and this is a story about imperfect people embracing the beauty of that mystery. As St. Augustine wrote, “If you do understand, then it is not God.”
A lot of times when reading a bad novel, I hear the gears of the author’s mind in the background. Waugh, especially in this novel, is invisible and is completely out of the way of the story and the characters.
I recommend this novel to anyone wanting to read a master of the English language and those who enjoy the spiritual journey.