I’ve just reread ‘Brideshead Revisited’ by Evelyn Waugh (1945) because I really didn’t appreciate the brilliance of this novel when I read it a decade or so ago. It feels mean-spirited to condense such bounty down to just #ThreeGifts for the writer-reader but here goes. (1) Words. Simple, beautiful words. Try this (p.95): “Everywhere, on cobble and gravel and lawn, the leaves were falling and in the college gardens the smoke of the bonfires joined the wet river mist, drifting across the grey walls…” and (p.256): “Julia pulled off her hat … shook her night-dark hair with a sigh of ease – a sigh fit for the pillow, the sinking firelight, and a bedroom window open to the stars and the whisper of bare trees”. (2) Dialogue. Pages and pages of dialogue but every line carefully crafted and pertinent to the building of vivid and memorable characters. (3) A plot that subtly – so subtly – sinks to the depths of obsession and regret for lost youth and lost hope – and then rises to hint at ultimate redemption. And (4) – please can I have a fourth gift? – punctuation; a symphony of colons and semicolons and em dashes. I’m now going to pour a glass of wine and settle down to watch the dvd; the one with Ben Whishaw (who else?) as Sebastian.
Hannah Hulme Hunter
Writer of literary historical fiction set in the Great War (First World War). Revising my first book, writing the next, seeking representation. Mountaineer, gardener, traveller, off-road runner. Africa, modern history, coffee, roses, and unrealistic romance. NHS midwife in a former life.