Halloween Roundup

–There are several reviews this week of William Boyd’s new novel Trio. Waugh is mentioned in some of them. The Guardian’s review opens with this:

…Some of his comic writing suggests a kinship with Evelyn Waugh as a farceur of rare talent, but other books hint that he is a very un-English talent indeed, as befits his upbringing in Ghana, Nigeria and Scotland. For all his skill at constructing page-turning narratives, there is an ostentatious delight in game-playing that almost makes him the novelistic equivalent of Tom Stoppard.

In much the same vein, Alan Massie writes this in The Scotsman:

From the time he published his first novel, A Good Man in Africa, Boyd has been recognized as a splendid storyteller, something that distinguishes him from a number of his most admired contemporaries. Evelyn Waugh once called Somerset Maugham “the only living studio-master under whom one can study with profit.” Reading him offered “the same delight as in watching a first-class cabinet-maker cutting dovetails”. One might say the same of Boyd. He is a master-craftsman. Aspiring novelists might learn more from a study of how he does it than from many weeks of a Creative Writing course.

–The Daily Mail has reviewed a book about WWII spy Catherina Koopman, a/k/a “Toto”. When she wasn’t spying she was modeling clothes and having affairs with both men and women. Waugh commented on one of her male conquests who is described as:

… the man who, one way or another, would have the greatest influence on her life, newspaper magnate Lord Beaverbrook, owner of the Daily and Sunday Express. A quixotic and outspoken character, many people loathed him because of the power he wielded without mercy and the disdain with which he treated people. The writer Evelyn Waugh was once asked if he believed in the Devil and replied: ‘Of course. How else could you account for Lord Beaverbrook?’ Even his great buddy Winston Churchill called him Machiavelli.

The biography is entitled Toto & Coco: Spies, Seduction and the Fight for Survival and is written by Alan Frame.

Standpoint magazine has a reposted a 2013 review entitled “McBrideshead Revisited” about a political memoir from a member of the then recent “New Labour” government, Damian McBride. This is entitled Power Trip:

McBride worked at the Treasury under Gordon Brown, first as civil servant and then as political adviser dealing with the media; transferred to No 10 when Brown became Prime Minister; and had to resign when he was implicated in an attempted smear campaign. This book explains how that came about. McBride details all his distasteful acts, successful or otherwise, to manipulate the public image of his boss and lower the standing of rivals. We are meant to be shocked. […]

The memoir like

…Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited [is]  composed as flashbacks from an opening trigger (Ryder’s regiment arriving at Brideshead; McBride climbing out of a neighbour’s kitchen window to evade photographers). In both the narrator drifts into a career for which he had no previous training (Ryder becomes a painter after redecorating Brideshead; McBride starts as a VAT expert and ends as a spin doctor). The role of Sebastian Flyte is shared between Ed Balls and Ed Miliband (and during the story they swap roles of unreliable narcissist and teddy bear).[…]

Nevertheless, both writers use a dominating metaphor around which all action revolves. For Waugh this was Brideshead itself, the stately home whose values are being polluted by modernity. For McBride it is the equally monolithic Gordon Brown, a titanic statesman of genius and moral certainty who saved the world but has been traduced by an ungrateful nation. Power Trip is not an act of contrition but an attempt at rehabilitation. If only we had known the “real” Gordon Brown; if only we had understood how deeply he cared; if only we could have seen him in private; if only we could have appreciated what was going on inside his head; if only, if only, urges McBride, then the Brown administration would not have been such a bloody cock-up. And that, I’m afraid, is where Power Trip goes all wrong.

–The Evesham Journal has announced the death of Rosalind Morrison, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Worcestershire:

When Lady Morrison of Madresfield Court was officially chosen as the new High Sheriff of Worcestershire in 2011, she became the first person to occupy the office since 1974 after the Worcestershire and Herefordshire posts were separated again. Lady Morrison’s aunt was Lady Dorothy Heber-Percy, formerly Lygon, who died in 2001.

Lady Dorothy’s family seat was Madresfield Court near Malvern, and the family is thought to have inspired Evelyn Waugh’s most famous work, Brideshead Revisited. Lady Dorothy’s father – Lady Morrison’s grandfather – was the 7th Earl Beauchamp, with Lady Morrison chairing the charity the Beauchamp Community at Newlands, which was originally endowed by her family.

She was 74 at the time of her death. R.I.P

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