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Helena (Thomas More Books to Live Series)
Helena (Thomas More Books to Live Series)
by Evelyn Waugh
Edition: Hardcover
15 used & new from $38.60

59 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars St. Helena And The Search For The Cross, March 13, 2002
Evelyn Waugh wrote very funny, sophisticated novels about the British upper and bohemian classes. His short novel Helena is set in the late Roman empire, long before those categories existed, at least as we know them. It is about the mother of Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor, and her search for the True Cross in fourth century Palestine, after a life of imperial politics that took her from one end of the known world to the other. She was not active in politics, but born and married into it, being the daughter of a British Celtic chief (whom Waugh names Cole)and the wife of Chlorus, a Roman aristocrat and soldier who was the father of the future emperor. The first two-thirds of the book is a beautifully written fictional account of her life at the top, and we discover that after all there was an upper class with bohemian hangers-on not unlike Britain's in the last century. Waugh creates a completely convincing imperial court that is treacherous and sophisticated, and a very convincing saint who discovers her purpose in life in it. The supporting figures in the novel--a tutor; an architect; a humble, over-worked bishop; a pair of coniving witches--are among the best things in the book.
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