June 12, 2014

Consider This Classic: Leah Recommends

Consider This Classic is a monthly feature where bloggers highlight and recommend their favorite classic. They'll tell you when they first read it, why they love it and where to go from there. If you'd like to participate in Consider This Classic, click here to sign up.

I had been hoping that Leah from The Pretty Good Gatsby would participate in Consider This Classic, especially since her blog name made her seem like the perfect person to offer a classic recommendation! I love checking out Leah's blog, particularly because she has great taste in adult fiction and often highlights books that sound right up my alley; I haven't read anything by the author she's highlighting today, but Waugh is now on my TBR because of her recommendation. If you're interested in The Loved One after today's post, be sure to also check out her review of the book!


The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh

Publication Date: 1948
Originally Published In: United Kingdom
Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (from Goodreads)
Following the death of a friend, the poet and pets' mortician Dennis Barlow finds himself entering the artificial Hollywood paradise of the Whispering Glades Memorial Park. Within its golden gates, death, American-style, is wrapped up and sold like a package holiday-and Dennis gets drawn into a bizarre love triangle with Aimée Thanatogenos, a naïve Californian corpse beautician, and Mr. Joyboy, a master of the embalmer's art. Waugh's dark and savage satire on the Anglo-American cultural divide depicts a world where reputation, love, and death cost a very great deal.

For the longest time I swore off authors like Waugh. While I love writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerald, I had so many preconceived notions about Evelyn Waugh (mainly that his writing was stuffy and boring with language that would be difficult to understand) that made reading his work seem like far too great an effort. It wasn't until just last year that I finally picked up a copy of The Loved One and wound up tearing through it in a single sitting.


Those preconceived notions I had? They were completely, thoroughly, 100% false. A few months after reading The Loved One I wrote a post called Why aren't YOU reading Evelyn Waugh? and in it mentioned that he came from a period where wit was a weapon. Waugh's wit shines through in The Loved One and multiple times I had to pause because I was giggling far too hard.

In 160 pages (throw away your belief that classics = long!) Waugh tells a tale of two employees at rival funeral homes (one for humans, one for pets) and the romance that blossoms between them. Sounds like a riot, right??

The Loved One is a hilarious and extremely quick read: the perfect starting point for newcomers. Also, this novel turned Waugh into an Auto-Buy author - pretty high praise from me!


P.G. Wodehouse (particularly his Jeeves series) immediately came to mind. Wodehouse was one of Waugh's contemporaries and I'm positive fans of one will be fans of the other.

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut - While these two aren't all that similar in terms of themes or story, I think Vonnegut's humor and wit will definitely appeal to fans of Waugh. Breakfast of Champions was my first Vonnegut novel, though really, any of his books could work. He was fantastically funny and sharp and his books are among my favorite comfort reads.

2 comments:

  1. :) :) YAY! I had a blast with this and would absolutely love to do it again in the future. Thank you so much, Hannah!

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  2. Ooh! I haven't read any Waugh before BUT I do have to say that the premise of this book is absolutely fascinating. It kind of already makes me smile to think about it, and I'm glad to hear that it's a witty piece of writing! Thanks for the rec, Leah! :D

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