Waugh on the Warpath
Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One is not one of his ‘big name’ books. It doesn’t rank with, say, Scoop, Vile Bodies or Brideshead Revisited in the reading consciousness. I came across it only by dint of having a father who had read everything, usually as soon as it came out, and who had a first edition of the Penguin on his shelf. ‘If you like Decline and Fall,’ he would say, ‘you should read The Loved One,’ but for some reason I never did. Not until the other day, when it successfully got me through two dismal coach journeys. That is what Waugh specializes in, of course: a book to read which is like eating a longdrawn- out tea at Fortnum’s, but one you can leave and return to at your leisure – not that leaving it is all that easy.