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Evelyn Waugh - A Handful of Dust
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A Handful of Dust

by Evelyn Waugh

A Handful of Dust is a well written novel concerning the breakdown of a marriage between an English couple, both from well established families.

The landscape in which the story is set - early 1930s England / landed aristocracy / town houses and country manor - is a rich field for satire and the author does not fail to take advantage of this. The quaint and cranky divorce laws of the time also come in for a knocking.

If one thing stands out in Waugh's writing style it is that there is an absence of it. Whatever it is about humour that benefits from brevity, there is lots of that thing in this novel. The laconic narrative almost always gives way for deftly written dialogues which carry the story forward - revealing character, moving the plot forward at a fair rate of knots and providing the kind of colour and texture to a novel that only dialogue can create.

The plot, reduced to it's most basic ingredients, might be described as two-thirds warm, roasted marshmallows to one part vitriol. Bland predictability this novel is not.

Criticism? The characters in the story remain fresh and interesting throughout, but there is not much of a sense of the characters outgrowing their initial shoe-sizes and becoming deeper, or more mature.

For a well-crafted novel such as this, an exceptional reading is called for and Andrew Sachs who narrates this edition puts in a masterly performance which is perfectly in tune with the dry nature of Waugh's writing and where the numerous accents encountered never become grating.

Published by Chivers Audio books and read by Andrew Sachs.

Litrev Rating

Overall 5______

Suspense 5______
Characters 5______
Plot 5______
Audio 5______
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Comments 

 
+1 #2 My 2 centsViromike 2010-04-16 04:39
I read about it some days ago in another blog and the main things that you mention here are very similar
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0 #1 Re:JonnyCash 2010-04-01 06:37
This is my first visit here, but I will be back soon, because I really like the way you are writing, it is so simple and honest
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