“A work of art as rich and subtle and unnerving as anything its author has ever done” (New Yorker), The Loved One is Evelyn Waugh’s cutting satire of 1940s California and the Anglo-American cultural divide.
Following the death of a friend, the poet and pets’ mortician Dennis Barlow finds himself entering the artificial Hollywood paradise of the Whispering Glades Memorial Park. Within its golden gates, death, American-style, is wrapped up and sold like a package holiday–and Dennis gets drawn into a bizarre love triangle with Aimée Thanatogenos, a naïve Californian corpse beautician, and Mr. Joyboy, a master of the embalmer’s art. Waugh’s dark and savage satire depicts a world where reputation, love, and death cost a very great deal.
"Fiendishly entertaining."—New York Times
"As a piece of writing it is nearly faultless; as satire it is an act of devastation."—John Woodburn, The New Republic
"You'd better buy The Loved One, because I can't imagine a purchase apt to corrupt and delight you more...Never before that I can remember has a talent of such austere and classic design been applie to such monstrous vulgarities; never before have the majestic themes of love and death been so delicately perverted to absurdity....It is certainly a work of art, as rich and subtle and unnerving as anything its author has ever done."—Wolcott Gibbs, The New Yorker
"Although the locale of The Loved One is Hollywood, it is not filmdom that Mr. Waugh takes in hand, but the American ethos....He finds a touchstone for the mass-mind of America, for the compulsion to 'package' everything, even love and death....Mr. Waugh's treatment of his macabre material is uninhibited, and wickedly funny...as sadistic, playful, and decisive as a cat's paw on a mouse."—Alice S. Morris, New York Times Book Review