I can't remember if I introduced you to our latest addition. This is Columbo. Hercule was being less than friendly to Lt. Foyle so I got him a little friend his own size.
And here is Liszt's lovely Liebestraum. I alliterated that without even trying.
Men At Arms by Evelyn Waugh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is the second book I have read by Waugh. The first was Brideshead Revisited and while it was interesting, it was a bit morose.
"That little tick wants his bottom kicked, " said Major Erskine. "I think I shall kick it. Good for him and pleasant for me."
That is my favorite line and I like repeating it to myself. That is also a good sample of the wit Waugh exercises on every page of Men at Arms.
Consequently I liked Men at Arms much better than Brideshead Revisited. Our hero Guy Crouchback is too old to enlist for WWII but wants to and finally is accepted into the Halbediers Unit. He is one of two older men, the other being Apthorpe. Both of them go through preliminary training with young men who call them "Uncle". Finally they are sent off to war and we learn how they fair there.
Most of the book takes place during their training time and we meet quite a bundle of interesting characters. Waugh is able to make his characters comical without being cartoony, which I appreciate. This book is really funny, even though it deals with a serious subject matter.
The story is from Guy's point of view, but with third person narration. One could almost feel sorry for Guy as we see the younger men try to take advantage of him and Apthorpe himself seems to manipulate Guy in ways that Guy can only appreciate later as a less than fortunate thing.
But Guy has strains of tenacity and learns to fend for himself, while he circulates with men, some of who are not altogether sane.
I won't give away the story, there isn't much of one. This is a character-driven book and the characters are interesting. Not a dull one anywhere and if you enjoy reading about the funny and sometimes zany antics of a bunch of grown men trying to prepare themselves to fight in a war, you will like this book.
View all my reviews