This is the story of Charles Ryder and his experience with Sebastian Flyte and his family; how they influence his life and yet how he feels responsible for their welfare, and the contrasts between their lives and his own. The story begins with Charles and his troops arriving at the mansion of Brideshead looking for shelter during the war, and him recognising the building and grounds from when he knew Sebastian and his family and then reminiscing about this time of his life and the impact the family had on him.
There is so much detail and subtlety in this book that I find it difficult to identify how I feel about it. I suspect it is one of those books that the more times I read it the more will be revealed. There were so many sides to each character (as I suppose there are in real-life people) that I found it difficult to understand any of them or their motives. I have to say I was left feeling confused by the book and by my feelings about it; I didn’t find it gripping or particularly care for any of the characters so I found the book quite hard-going and yet there was something about the book and the beautifully constructed sentences that ensured I continued to the end, although I am left thinking I’ve personally failed in some way as I can recognise the book as a classic and yet I really didn’t love it, though I so much wanted to. I have heard good things about his other books, such as End of the Battle and Scoop so will try them also and perhaps I’ll ‘gel’ with one of them, as I do really want to like his books.