Review: A Handful of Dust

I picked up with book based on a recommendation of a friend, and the fact that it was actually available at my library for immediate checkout during the COVID lockdown(1.0) Written in 1934 by Evelyn Waugh, I was intrigued, as I had only read his most famous “Brideshead Revisted.”

I had absolutely no idea what to expect; I approached the book expecting it to be akin to an Austen or Dickens. Nothing prepared me for the sarcastic and satirical novel that it is.

Without revealing too much, it is about the on-goings of several shallow, decadent post-WWI young adults in England. It gives a short glimpse into lives of Tony Last and his wife, who I liked immediately, the annoying and droopy John Boever, and a funny range of other miscellaneous characters in their London society.

As the plot continued to spiral into absurdity after absurdity, I emailed my friend “What is happening in this book?! Why am I bothering with it?” She laughed, as she knew Waugh was known for his satire and off-handed way of showing just how empty and trivial life could be in the post-war(1) era. I continued on and wanted to throw the book across the room most of the time, yet the writing was so good and the ending was hilarious. Tony spends the rest of his days reading Dickens aloud to a crazy man in South America. (I’m not the biggest Dickens fan…because I just haven’t given it enough time.) so the thought of reading it aloud for the read of my life is a level of torture that is fitting for this novel.

If you need a light read, yet want more substance than most current best-sellers, I’d recommend “A Handful of Dust.”

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