Char­ac­ters show fa­mil­iar be­hav­iour

Seymour Telegraph - - YOUR LOCAL DINING GUIDE -

A Hand­ful of Dust

ABy Eve­lyn Waugh Many lit­er­ary crit­ics con­sider Hand­ful of Dust the au­thor’s best work and, al­though it was first pub­lished decades ago, the re­la­tion­ships, the con­flicts and the char­ac­ters’ behaviours are just the same as to­day.

Dif­fer­ent set­tings and dif­fer­ent so­ci­ety man­ners, but still the same un­writ­ten rules of be­hav­iour.

Read­ers will be re­minded of peo­ple they know in this book.

The main char­ac­ter is a staid, un­ad­ven­tur­ous man who loves his great English coun­try house and its his­tory above ev­ery­thing else.

Of course, he loves his wife and young son too, but with­out the de­vo­tion he feels to his prop­erty.

The au­thor clev­erly gives the reader a grow­ing feel­ing of ap­pre­hen­sion and when the man’s life and ex­pec­ta­tions change sud­denly and ir­re­vo­ca­bly, he is lost in a mire of ugly and petty cir­cum­stances.

He is un­able to deal with it, so he goes away. He takes a sea trip to South Amer­ica and ev­ery­thing changes again.

The au­thor spent long months in the wildest parts of South Amer­ica him­self, so cre­ates an ac­cu­rate, de­tailed de­scrip­tion of the hero’s cir­cum­stances, and again, the reader gets a pre­mo­ni­tion of dra­matic change.

You know some­thing is go­ing to hap­pen, but when the hero’s per­sonal cir­cum­stances take him right off the beaten track and he has no al­ter­na­tive than to con­tinue on in un­al­ter­able cir­cum­stances, the reader is right be­side him.

Even­tu­ally he stum­bles on a seem­ingly sym­pa­thetic man who looks af­ter him, but re­quires pay­ment of an ex­tra­or­di­nary kind.

We are left won­der­ing if the sit­u­a­tion ever changes, but when the au­thor takes us back in the fi­nal chap­ter to the large coun­try house, we learn what has hap­pened in his ab­sence.

The au­thor was renowned for his sar­cas­tic hu­mour, but there is none here; just a good story, well told.

— Lee Stephen­son

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