Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Handful of Dust | Evelyn Waugh

A Handful of Dust ~ Evelyn Waugh

By: Fatma Makki

This book doesn’t revolve particularly on any one or two characters. The best way to describe it would be that it centers around the lives and dramas of the social elite of England. It starts off by introducing the cast of characters slowly, and includes a whole host of different personalities: the intense social-climbing boy toy, the bored aristocrat’s wife tucked away in a large, decaying and formerly beautiful country manor, the stiff old school English gentleman, the flamboyant and daring women who married a Moor. The characters have nothing to do with their time but create trouble for themselves and each other, but they do it with such impeccable style!

Personal Opinion: If this book were a desert, it would be a macaroon: light but extremely indulgent and decadent, with the perfect blend of dryness and unbelievable sweetness. It’s amazing how nearly all the characters come across as being primarily self-absorbed and generally behave very badly, but I’ve come to love them in a way that you can really love brutally honest characters. This book made fun of all the crazy social conventions of the time, with a sense of humour that is dry and quintessentially English. It’s beautiful to see Waugh weave magic out of a bunch of bored rich people laying about with too much time on their hands; somehow great adventures form out of thin air! I realize this may be a bit vague, but I really don’t want to give anything away at all. Let’s just say it ends up with a surreal journey through a tropical rainforest that is one of the best scenes I’ve ever read in my entire life.

Rating: 10/10 – I didn’t want to give a full mark for my first Omani Book Mania review, but this book thoroughly deserves it; especially since the book was published with an alternative ending, which was just brilliant and a great way of showcasing the author’s highly creative mind.

I’d recommend this book for anyone 18+ men and women. Only because I feel that the pace of the book is too slowly for a younger reader to appreciate. But I loved this book so much I can’t imagine anyone reading it and not liking it! As I said before, there is a very dry sense of humour that some people don’t like. If you liked the movie or book Brideshead Revisited, you will definitely love this (same author)!


  1. Your way of writing about it makes me want to pick it up right now, I think this would definitely be an enjoyable read.
    You make it sound so interesting. :D Will definitely add it to my to-read list. Thanks for introducing us to a new book.

  2. This sounds like something I'd enjoy.
    I love reading about British Royalties.. Is this based on a true story?

  3. Noor: Thank you! I recommend that you get a copy which is annotated, like my Penguin edition, because I found myself referring to it pretty frequently to get a hand of the terminology, which is sometimes a bit different from modern English.

    Buthaina: I'm sure you would enjoy it! It's not based on a true story, but Waugh's descriptions were so vivid I read up about him online and realized that he has lived and travelled through many of the places in the book, such as the tropical rainforest. But it's mostly about the aristocratic circles of British society, not any real royalty. The closest is Princess Jenny Abulbakar, who is a very colorful character, probably my favorite in the whole book!