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The Loved One Paperback – September, 1999

3.6 out of 5 stars 184 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The prolific Waugh--an English novelist and satirist perhaps best known for Brideshead Revisited--described this slim, vicious comedy as "a little nightmare produced by the unaccustomed high living of a brief visit to Hollywood." The setting is the L.A. funeral industry, where Whispering Glades provides deluxe service to deceased stars and their families, and the Happier Hunting Ground does the same for dead pets. (At Whispering Glades, staff must refer to the corpses only as "Loved Ones.") The industry provides a perfect foil for Waugh's deadpan wit--and an apt metaphor for the movie business.


(in full The Loved One: An Anglo-American Tragedy) Satiric novel by Evelyn Waugh, published in 1948. The novel concerns the experiences of a young Englishman living in southern California. It attacks the snobbery of Englishmen and the stupidity, vulgarity, and intellectual sterility of Americans. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 164 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books (September 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316926086
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316926089
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (184 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
How brilliant an author can be when he doesn't give the slightest hoot about any of the characters he breathes life into! "The Loved One" is a brutal read, but those who read it will uncover a fabulous entertainment precisely because of its total lack of sentiment.

Failed poet Dennis Barlow has left his native England and, much to the embarrassment of his fellow ex-pat Brits, taken work as the front man for a Los Angeles pet cemetery, Happier Hunting Grounds. While making funeral arrangements for his former living companion, a scriptwriter-turned-suicide, Barlow meets and romances a cosmetician at Whispering Glades, the in-place for dead celebs who crave some final status before they go. Using some recycled poetry from the likes of Shelley and Shakespeare (he's long since run out of gas on his own), Barlow manages to woo young Aimee Thanatogenos from under the attentions of chief Whispering Glades undertaker Mr. Joyboy. But will Joyboy play fair with his rival?

One confusing thing people often say about "The Loved One" is that it's a Catholic satire on the materialist way people handle the subject of death. Waugh was a devout Catholic, and a satirist, but it strikes me that "The Loved One" is rather agnostic in tone, without a religious character or idea presented as buttress against the nihilist vision of the book. I don't think people are wrong to be disturbed by it that way. "The Loved One" satirizes the non-religious nature of death as memorialized at Whispering Glades, but not so much with the suggestion of an alternative as with the notion that talk of non-sectarian "better worlds" is like whistling in a vacuum and, at best, frivolous. After a few reads, my sense of "A Loved One" is that it could be a book written by a Lutheran, a Jew, or an atheist.
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Format: Paperback
This is only the second Evelyn Waugh novel I have read, and I find myself liking him all the more. Waugh is famous for his scathing satire and witty play with words; he can craft characters who are odious even to him and dispose of their problems with ease and brillance. Such is the case with "The Loved One", a wry novel that skewers everything from the upper class to religion to funerary practices, all while drawing laughs and smiles from the reader.

Dennis Barlow is a young Englishman living in southern California. He fashions himself to be a poet, but as the Muse has left him dry, he finds employment at the Happier Hunting Grounds a.k.a. the local pet cemetery. When his mentor and roommate commits suicide, it is up to Dennis to arrange his funeral at the chic and studied Whispering Glades - not so much a cemetery as an entire business devoted to the dead and their 'waiting ones'. Dennis finds himself enthralled with not only Whispering Glades, but with Aimee, a young cosmetician who works there. He fights for her attention with plagarized poems while her other suitor, Mr. Joyboy the wonder mortician, delivers smiling corpse after corpse for her to paint in hopes of winning her love.

After introducing readers to this integral triangle of the book, the novel is then devoted to Aimee's struggles to choose which man she should marry. This questioning leads to some fatal consequences, that are indecorously disposed of through Waugh's irreverent creation Dennis Barlow. "The Loved One" is tirelessly funny, and searchingly honest. Evelyn Waugh examines the farce humans play when a loved one dies with heretofore unknown wit and alacrity that may have failed under lesser hands.
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Format: Paperback
In this brilliant little satirical novel, Evelyn Waugh takes on Hollywood, the British expatriate community in Los Angeles, the death care industry, romantic love, filial love, sexism (perhaps without knowing it), and American attitudes toward success, death, foreigners, art, their pets, suicide, morality, newspaper advice columns, and religion (both ancient and new-fangled). No tombstone goes unturned. Rather than summarize the plot, let me just say that the title of the book, which is an obvious reference to the standard funteral director's euphemism for a deceased person, actually takes on another meaning as well, especially as the two main male characters (Dennis Barlow, an British would-be poet newly arrived to Los Angeles, and Mr. Joyboy, a successful local embalmer) vie for the affections of the same young lady, Aimee Thanatogenos. The novel could be seen on one level as the story of her journey from being the men's love object (desired, but never really "seen") to becoming a "loved one" in the death care industry sense of the word.

At the same time I was reading the book, I rented Tony Richardson's marvelous all-star film (1965). Both are equally wicked and satirical, but Richardson's film, in its exploitation of American anxieties about nuclear war, has more in common with Stanley Kubric's "Dr. Strangelove" than with Waugh's 1948 novel. In any case, seeing the movie didn't spoil the ending of the book. Both are brilliant and LOL fun.
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Format: Paperback
First, let me be honest. The first few pages of this book are downright boring. In fact, I practically had to force myself to read these pages, because I really didn't care about two old men talking to each other. However, once I got to the halfway point of the book, I was hooked. Reading about Ms.Thanatogenos ongoing struggle on who she really loved, Mr.Joyboy or Mr.Barlow was probably the best part of the book for me. The way these characters act and speak in the book made me feel like I was standing right next to one of them, which made me greatly appreciate the writing ability of Evelyn Waugh. Alas, even this was not enough to overcome the negativeness brought down on the book by the first few pages, so I decided to give this book an average rating of only stars. I only recommend this book to people who will have the patience and discipline to get past the first few pages without skipping them, because they are a necessary part of the story. If you can do this however, you will be pulled into a whole new world of romance, comedy, treachery, and tragedy, that could very well enthrall you and keep you reading this book for years to come. Thank you for reading my review.
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