” ‘What’s this place called?’
He told me and, on the instant, it was as though someone had switched off the wireless, and a voice that had been bawling in my ears, incessantly, fatuously, for days beyond number, had been suddenly cut short; an immense silence followed, empty at first, but gradually, as my outraged sense regained authority, full of a multitude of sweet and natural and long-forgotten sounds – for he had spoken a name that was so familiar to me, a conjuror’s name of such ancient power, that, at its mere sound, the phantoms of those haunted late years began to take flight.”
Not what I was expecting it to be, but still very good. I especially like the discussions of Catholicism (and the major role it plays in the dynamics of the infamous Flyte family, owners of Brideshead Castle) and homosexuality. My two favorite characters were both gay – one more openly than the other. First there was Anthony Blanche, who I always pictured as a drag queen because he was that fabulous, and then of course there’s Sebastian, the holy and doomed best friend of the narrator. One of my favorite lines in the book came from him, when he takes Charles Ryder (the narrator, who wasn’t quite likeable) for a drive: “The motor-car is the property of a man named Hardcastle. Return the bits to him if I kill myself; I’m not very good at driving.” Sebastian also has a teddy bear named Aloysius, who he talks about as if he’s real, and it’s horribly endearing. Sadly, the bear disappears about halfway through the book.
After reading the book, I now want to see the movie version (the one that just came out and is the reason my copy of the book, with the shiny photos from the film, cost $14.99). Judging by the trailers, it’s completely different from the book, but Emma Thompson seems to do an amazing job as Lady Marchmain, so it can’t be too terrible.
Verdict: four out of five stars