Books »Decline and Fall

Decline and Fall Evelyn WaughDecline and Fall is so breezy, I ran through the first half in what seemed like minutes. If you're a fan of Jeeves and Wooster or any other old British satires, Waugh and his brand of black humor are a must for you. This is the comic genius's first novel and it might lack the serious depth of his Brideshead Revisited, if that's what you're expecting. While the story of Paul Pennyfeather does drag him through manic highs and lows, from innocent and foolish, to posh and foolish, to imprisoned and not quite as foolish, and so on; you won't find Paul's antics, even at their worst, handled like Sebastian's tragedy (no alcoholism and syphilitic german lovers).

The first section of the book, about Pennyfeather's time as a teacher at a lousy boarding school is my favorite, and I dare say I would have loved the novel more if it had stayed there. Not that I would pretend to suggest how Waugh pace and write his novels–or that the book isn't worth reading after that point. An exceptional debut from an exceptional author.

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Posted on September 24, 2007

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