By Evelyn Waugh
Little Brown, 1945. 351 pgs. Fiction.
The story of Charles Ryder and his experiences with the Marchmain’s of Brideshead Castle, an upper class Roman Catholic family. Set in England between the two world wars, Charles first meets Sebastian Flyte, a younger son in the Marchmain family at Oxford University. Though they are from very different circles, Charles and Sebastian become close friends and have a grand time getting drunk every night. Sebastian takes Charles to Brideshead that summer where Charles meets the rest of the Marchmain family and observes the dynamics of a very devout matriarch with her children. Charles himself is agnostic and has a hard time understanding the torment the two middle children, Sebastian and Julia feel over the lives they want to live versus the guilt they feel from their religious upbringing.
As Charles grows up, his life drifts in and out of the world at Brideshead, but his desire to be a part of it never fades.
While reading this book I was torn about how I felt about it. I finally came to the conclusion that while I didn’t care for some of the storyline, I loved the depth and complexity of the characters and the subtlety of the writing. It is no wonder this book has stood the test of time.