At the Telegraph , Philip Womack reviews Paula Byrne’s new book, Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead :
Brideshead Revisited must surely rank as one of the best-loved novels of the 20th century. Aloysius the teddy bear, Sebastian Flyte being sick through Charles Ryders window, Anthony Blanche declaiming TS Eliot through a megaphonethese images offer us a glimpse into an Arcadia we can never hope to enter. Evelyn Waugh believed the novel to be his masterpieceonly later did he come to disapprove of its sentimentality.
People have always tried to pinpoint the sources for Waughs characters. While acknowledging that Waughs supreme artistry lay in his ability to create originals out of composites, Paula Byrne has written a highly accomplished book about the family that came to inspire the Flytes of Brideshead: the Lygons (pronounced Liggon) of Madresfield. It was the family with whom Waugh fell in love, one that had more than its share of tragedy as well as laughter.