Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mrs Underhilll Book Club meeting # 1

Well Book Club members, it's time for me to put out a plate of Melting Moments and offer you a hot cuppa. Of course, I have already heard from a few members that the Christmas holidays were a little crazy and they have not yet finished the book, hell one has not yet even come home. So, to stave off the inevitable for a moment and give us all time to catch up, after all this is meant to be an enjoyable pursuit, I will begin discussions about the book online and in earnest next week and hope that suits better. In the meantime, please consider the next book we will tackle.

Brideshead Revisited (1945), is an evocation of a vanished pre-war England. It is an extraordinary work which in many ways has come to define Waugh and his view of his world. It not only painted a rich picture of life in England and at Oxford University at a time (before World War II), which Waugh himself loved and embellished in the novel, but it allowed him to share his feelings about his Catholic faith, principally through the actions of his characters. Amazingly, he was granted leave from the war to write it. The book was applauded by his friends, not just for an evocation of a time now — and then — long gone, but also for its examination of the manifold pressures within a traditional Catholic family. It was a huge success in Britain and in the United States. Decades later a television adaptation (1981) achieved popularity and acclaim in both countries, and around the world. Another a film adaptation was made in 2008. Waugh revised the novel in the late 1950s because he found parts of it "distasteful on a full stomach" by which he meant that he wrote the novel during the gray privations of the latter war years.

Questions to mull over:

1. A plot structure question: why is Lord Marchmain's death the novel's finale? Isn't he a minor character? Who cares if he dies?

2. What shifts do you see - in theme, tone, style, plot structure, or anything else - between Book One and Book Two of Brideshead Revisited?
3. Besides Charles, whose side are you on as a reader, and which characters just aren't likeable? What do you think of Lady Marchmain, for example? Julia? Brideshead? Lord Marchmain?
(Qs adapted from

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