New Novels with Wavian Undercurrents

Two new novels have been credited in reviews with having been influenced by the writings of Evelyn Waugh. In the Spectator, Elizabeth Day’s fourth novel The Party is described in a review by Helen Brown as beginning with the hero’s

Arriving at boarding school with the wrong shoes and a teddy bear in his suitcase… Elizabeth Day’s fourth novel is the latest in a long literary line of suburban lost boys sucked into the intoxicating orbit of a wealthy friend. Scott Fitzgerald, Evelyn Waugh, Patricia Highsmith, Ian McEwan, Alan Hollinghurst and Gillian Flynn have all done it before and we know the story never ends well. Day drops references to them all into her book, like olives into an increasingly dirty martini.

After describing the plot and comparing the narrative structure to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Brown’s review concludes:

…As readers, we’re as vulnerable as [Day’s characters] to the narcotic narcissism of the super-rich. It’s a guilty pleasure to sneak into Ben’s party, past the supermodels in their backless, sequinned gowns and the floating silver trays of ironic cocktails. We settle in, hoover up lines of Day’s wicked prose at an increasingly giddy pace and wait for the whole sickly scene to curdle into crime.

The i News reviews the latest novel by Anthony Quinn. This is what is described as the third novel in a 20th Century trilogy that began with Curtain Call. This latest novel is entitled Eureka and is takes place in the late 1960s milieu of “swinging London.” It relates to the making of a film in and of that period, and the text of the screenplay is woven into the narrative. As described by the i News reviewer (Simon O’Hagan):

…if the plot of Eureka is a little meandering, the human comedy more than makes up for it. There is something Evelyn Waugh-like about Eureka, not just in its depiction of the escapades that privilege can afford, but in the ease and seeming effortlessness of Quinn’s prose.

According to an interview of Quinn, this novel’s claim to be part of a trilogy is a bit tenuous. The three novels are linked by the appearance of a character named Freya in each of them. She appears briefly as a child in the 1920-30s of the first, is the heroine of the post-war second novel, entitled Freya, and has a supporting role as a journalist in this third one. In addition, the protagonist of this last novel, screenwriter Nat Fane, had a supporting role in Freya. Otherwise, the stories and characters are independent of each other.

This entry was posted in Evelyn Waugh, Fiction, Interviews, Newspapers and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.