UK newspapers have begun listing their best of the year selections, and books about Waugh feature in several of them. Philip Eade’s biography was named in numerous papers. The Financial Times included the book in its selections of best literary non-fiction:
Eade’s new biography draws on unpublished letters, diaries and memoirs to explore the eccentric, larger-than-life story of one of the most acclaimed novelists of the 20th century. Will send readers back to the novels in droves.
In the Guardian’s best of the year listings, novelist John Banville included it among his choices:
Philip Eade’s Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) demonstrates that Waugh’s life, already done by diverse hands, really is worth another visit.
Two essential, complementary books about Waugh: Eade’s pacey new biography delivers the raw material of Waugh’s life, the “hamper…of perishable goods”, and Pasternak Slater’s keen, insightful study explores how that raw material became “imperishable art”. While Eade serves up a compelling four-page account of Waugh’s drug-fuelled hallucinations in 1954, for example, Pasternak Slater devotes an entire chapter of lucid analysis to that episode’s transformation into Waugh’s late novel The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold. Buy both books and treat the Waugh aficionado in your life to a proper spread.
Patey’s book is not only a scholarly analysis of Waugh’s life and work, but it is the most theologically informed and intelligent biography every written of Waugh. Indeed, I would say that it’s very high and elegant theological literacy sets the standard for other biographies of Christian writers. Eade’s book, by contrast, pays scant attention to theology, and overall breaks very little new ground. His groundbreaking is extremely workmanlike, without great flourish or insight. So there is nothing wrong, per se, with the book–only that it is superfluous…
Writer and convert Eve Tushnet blogging on patheos.com recommends one of Waugh’s own books among her top ten reads of 2016:
The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold. Self-lacerating and unusually phantasmagoric Waugh. I’m super always down for self-lacerating phantasmagoria, #myaesthetic and all that, also always into novels where people have the symptoms of long-term alcoholism. There’s a sweetness to this book which suggests something about, at least, Waugh’s aspirations.
…Decline and Fall is a book to be enjoyed: true, there’s social commentary here; and true, there’s an autobiographical quality as well. But to focus too heavily on these aspects of the novel is, I think, to miss its magic. Waugh’s contribution is the perfectly time joke, the innuendo left unsaid, the character with a name too good to be true. Decline and Fall was the start of it all, and while it doesn’t entirely hold together, it signaled the emergence of a significant new talent, one with a sense of humor — and sense for how humor could be used to enhance a writer’s literary pursuits.