Thursday, 2 July 2015

The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh

"And why wouldn't I be, seeing all that dough going on relations they've hated all their lives, while the pets who've loved them and stood by them, never asked no questions, never complained, rich or poor, sickness or health, get buried anyhow like they was just animals?"

Dennis Barlow, unemployed, English ex-pat poet, takes a job in a pet cemetery. He finds out how the other half die, when he is tasked with making arrangements for fellow Brit Sir Francis Hinley, who has recently killed himself. The over the top surrounds of Whispering Glades are the scene for his initial meeting with Ms Aimée Thanatogenos who transforms the faces of the "loved ones" for the "waiting ones", along with the embalming wunderkind, Mr JoyBoy.

Even in death, Hollywood reveals itself as a strange dream factory in this concise novella.
Waugh is one of those writers who delivers so much in such a tight format, that it certainly bears reading more than once.

The picturesque surrounds of the memorial park are designed in sections to reflect the lifestyles of the interred, yet act as hidden rendezvous locations for local lovers.
Aimée's consultations with Guru Brahmin, seeking life advice, are answered by "two gloomy men and a bright young secretary". Nothing is as it seems,  and thwarted love is about to go up in flames (never a good thing at a mortuary).

4 out of 5 - dead easy to read.

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