Brideshead Revisited (1945)
by Evelyn Waugh
Despite being a small minority, English Catholics have an outsized presence in English literature of the first half of the twentieth century. Graham Greene is the writer most associated with the English-Catholic point of view, but in Brideshead Revisited Eveyln Waugh takes a swing at the English-Catholic novel. The subjects of Brideshead Revisited are the Marchmain family, Catholic English aristocrats who suffer from many of the maladies seen by other characters in Waugh's other novels: lack of focus, alcoholism, unacknowledged homosexuality, divorce, and a distinct fin de siècle malaise.
Unlike the other Waugh novels I've read as part of the 1001 Books project, I found Brideshead Revisited memorable indeed, perhaps because of the use of the flashback framing technique employed by the narrator (Captain Charles Ryder) or perhaps because of how well drawn I found the characters. Both Ryder and the Marchmain family members come vividly to live during the course of the book, which covers roughly from school days to the present. Charles Ryder isn't there simply as a narrator, Brideshead Revisited is his story, and it is the Marchmain family who play a role in his book, not the other way around.