This semi-autobiographical work tells the story of Gordon Caruthers' schooldays at the English public school, Fenhurst. From his confusion and isolation, through rebellious school escapades and relationships with fellow students, Alec Waugh reveals his own deep criticism of a system forcing pupils to conform to flawed ideals, and the inevitable consequences of thrusting thirteen year old children and eighteen year old adolescents together. The audiobook caused a storm of controversy at the time and was banned in many schools. Today it can be rightly seen as a controversial comment on public school life, and a classic.
Alec Waugh, 1898-1981, was a British novelist born in London and educated at Sherborne Public School, Dorset. Waugh’s first novel, The Loom of Youth (1917), is a semi-autobiographical account of public school life that caused some controversy at the time and led to his expulsion. Waugh was the only boy ever to be expelled from The Old Shirburnian Society. Despite setting this record, Waugh went on to become the successful author of over 50 works, and lived in many exotic places throughout his life which later became the settings for some of his texts. He was also a noted wine connoisseur and campaigned to make the cocktail party a regular feature of 1920s social life.
Dear Gods, this is a dull book. As public school memoirs go, it’s a long way from Tom Brown’s School Days. No plot, no characters, no humour. I suppose if it had had a narrator who’d bothered to read the book before commencing the narration (something this narrator obviously failed to do) it might have merited another star. Terrible.