Wednesday, 14 January 2015

A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh (3.5/5)

First published: 1934
Page count: 221

The back says: Beautiful Lady Brenda Last lives at Hetton Abbey, a Gothic monstrosity that is the pride and joy of her devoted husband Tony. Bored and restless after seven years of marriage, she drifts into an affair with the shallow socialite John Beaver and forsakes Tony for the glamorous Belgravia set. But, instesd of her divorce bringing her happiness, Brenda feels increasingly isolated. Tony, meanwhile, in his desire to escape their broken marriage, is propelled towards a different fate entirely...

I say: This started out very intriguing and funny with Mrs Beaver and her son John at the centre of the plot. Then we are introduced to Brenda, her husband Tony, and their various friends as the plot thickens. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any of them very interesting and once Brenda leaves Tony it all quickly goes downhill.

I was disappointed.

It almost feels like two separate novels; before Brenda walks away there’s a sort of airiness to the prose and the people, which later turns bleak and rather dreary. Usually I love sombre novels, but because Tony’s departure meant such a vast change, I never got into it.

The same can be said for the ending.

Abrupt and sort of meh (although what happened to Tony was unexpectedly amazing chilling).

What I did enjoy was Waugh’s prose in the first part of the novel. There was wit and silliness mixed with social commentary, and even though I didn’t care for most of the characters they did seem believable. There were a few things that happened merely for the sake of moving the story forward, but they weren’t too intrusive, albeit obvious.

3.5/5 for this and I look forward to reading more of Waugh’s works.

1 comment:

  1. Ugh, the premise sounds interesting. Sorry you didn't like the book all that much!