Friday, 14 January 2011

Mind Candy

If a book could be chocolate - or perhaps for me, caramel is more appropriate - I think it would be named Brideshead Revisited.  I read it not so much for the story of 'forbidden love' and all that but because it was set in the 1920s and 30s.  The book took me to Oxford, to the beautiful grand house called Brideshead, to Paris, Venice, Morocco, Mexico and on a cruise from New York back to England.  It described clothing, objects and rooms so beautifully that I wrote ten pages of notes - words I wanted to look up, things to find pictures of, foods to try.  And of course, I met Aloysius, the teddy bear.  Wasn't it strange that the main character should marry and have two children, named Johnjohn and Caroline?  [NB:  I chose the Kindle link because I liked the picture best, not because I'm a Kindle fan.]

Apparently there was a movie of the book with Emma Thompson and Michael Gambon that didn't do very well, which is hard to believe.  Perhaps people were squeamish about the 'friendship' between the two young men at Oxford.  There is not a single hint of anything physical that I recall in the book, but I wouldn't trust a film maker not to spice it up.  There was a previous TV series from 1981 that reviewers  surmised did such a great job that people were skeptical that the more recent movie could do better.  Hmm...much as I love Thompson and Gambon, can they really weigh in against Olivier and Gielgud?  Also, it does look as though Emma Thompson out-does her character's written role and so I might find the film frustrating, but I'm sure I will have to investigate finding probably both these films in order to enjoy the scenery, the house, the clothes and all that.


Strangely enough, in spite of the gay relationship which everyone seems to remember most about this book, one of the main themes in the book is the over-riding influence of the family's Catholic religion and the fact that the narrator could never quite understand their religious beliefs.  Evelyn Waugh, the author, himself converted to Catholicism at the age of 27 and in this, his 'magnum opus' he intended to explain how central religion was to his life.  Some how I think that message gets overlooked in the midst of all the worldly distractions he presents.

Even the setting aside, there are passages in the book that so perfectly describe an interchange, a moment, an understanding, that it is a delicious book.  Going online I wasn't disappointed, either.  I found this sort of guide, explaining all those unfamiliar terms - I can't wait to absorb it all!
Have you ever found a book that captured your mind so well, it took a while to bring your attention back to real life?

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