New Novel with Brideshead Theme

A new novel has a Brideshead theme. This is the third novel by Francesca Kay, whose first two were also well received. This one is entitled The Long Room and, according to a review by Max Davidson in the Mail on Sunday, it is:

…a spy novel that is neither riddled with violence nor incomprehensibly plotted. The hero of Francesca Kay’s elegant Cold War novel, set in London, is a young counter-espionage operative who spends his days listening to the tape-recorded conversations of suspected spies and radicals… The situation is so weirdly hypnotic that it inspires an alpha-class thriller, delivered with aplomb.’

The importance of Brideshead to the novel’s plot is described by the author herself in a recent blog post. The novel is set in 1981:

… the year in which Lady Diana Spencer married the Prince of Wales in a cloud of virginal white satin and romance. In the autumn of that year, ITV broadcast a brilliant adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, that supreme novel of yearning and nostalgia. At a time when Britain had only three television channels, and few households owned video recorders, programs could become national talking points. Brideshead was one. I remember friends arranging Brideshead parties, where we clustered together round tiny television sets, and no one ever made other plans on those Tuesday evenings.

Stephen [the book’s hero] watches Brideshead too, as do the other characters in the book. How interesting it now seems to me that we were all engrossed in that love letter to a vanishing aristocratic world at a time when our own world was changing too. The novel itself is much more than a story about decadence and privilege, and yet on the screen it was the languorous scenes of Oxford in the 1930s and life in an astonishingly grand and lovely house that took such lasting possession of our collective imaginations.


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