Brideshead Revisited

BRIDESHEAD REVISITED by Evelyn Waugh ( 1945) read October 2009


Do you remember Sebastian Flyte, his Teddy bear and the undergraduate lifestyle at Oxford in the television adaptation of Brideshead revisited? On reading this book we
found it is subtitled “ The Sacred and Profound Memories of Captain Charles Ryder”. This is exactly what it is – a serious book,far removed from the satirical novels previously
written by Waugh.


Returning with his company to Brideshead at the end of the war Ryder looks back to the past with nostalgia and sadness. The novel explores love, religion, sin and the role of the upper classes at the turn of the century.

There was a mixed reception to this book by the group. We all agreed that it was enjoyed as an insight into this era. The excellent style of written English was particularly appreciated. Sentences are well crafted, characters made real and the descriptions are a pleasure to read. However some members of the group found the book rather dull and long winded.

It was brought to our attention that Waugh stated that he was more interested in the construction of written prose than in the story line and we felt this was obvious.

The Night Watch

THE NIGHT WATCH by Sarah Waters (2006) – read in September 2009


Sarah Waters sets The Night Watch at the time of the second world war and the years immediately following. The book is structured in reverse chronological order ( a novel idea) and consequently much of the relevance of the twists of the plot may be missed initially until they are revealed as the book progresses. It is not often you feel you must quickly turn to the beginning of the book as soon as it is finished but it happens here.


The story is told via the four main characters linked by wartime experiences and their relationships. The group thought the book deftly written with believable characters. Where the style of writing was somewhat listless it reflected the trauma and stale existence of the characters who felt there was little purpose in their lives post war . The main part of the book relates the varied happenings of the characters during the war – voluntary medical aid in the blitz, conscientious objectors, life in prison, love affairs and the austerity of the time. It is realistic and well researched.


Generally we thought the book a worthwhile read but thought the explicit descriptions of sexual activities added little. This book has been highly praised by critics as have her previous three books. Waters states they may be considered as “lesbian romps”. This book included lesbian relationships but is certainly too serious to be termed a romp.

Bookworms 2

Leader/Coordinator: Janet Mardle

Aims and Objectives of the group:
1. To allow reading to cut across personal preferences
2. To develop dialogue on the experience of the read
3. To encourage honest exploration of responses to the book read
4. To avoid a snobbish approach to reading

Any expertise needed: No expertise – just a willingness to share ideas and responses to the chosen book and to respect the views of other members of the group.

Equipment needed (rough costs if any): Books are borrowed via the Bedfordshire Library Service. This allows books to be read where a sufficient number is a variable; therefore no cost is involved in the buying of books.

Maximum number permitted in the group: 12

Location, day and time of meetings: Dunstable Library. Third Monday of each month, 10:00am to 12:00noon

A brief description of a typical meeting: A chosen book is read by the members. A brief review is given by one member to introduce the discussion. The book is discussed in an informal way amongst the group; this usually takes ¾ hr approx.
Then comes a break (a good cake supplied by Beryl!) and we will use this time for personal chat etc.
Following the break a book of the choice of one person in the group is reviewed and discussed, followed by some poetry and any other publications we see as useful, fun or relevant.
It is the norm of the group to try to keep to our objectives in as informal a way as possible.
We enjoy the meetings, the books and the company of one another.


Our reading group meets monthly to discuss the chosen book with the objective of judging it as "a read". We tackle fiction, non-fiction, contemporary and classics borrowing books from the library. Below are synposises of our views of books we have recently read.


Book Review
The Night Watch
Brideshead Revisited
The Daughters of Cain
Jamaica Inn
Empire of the Sun
Suite Francaise
The Hitchiker
Brick Lane
The House at Riverton
The Welsh Girl
House of Orphans