Decline and Fall

Narrated by: Michael Maloney
Length: 5 hrs and 40 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (187 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Subtitled "A Novel of Many Manners", Evelyn Waugh's notorious first novel lays waste the "heathen idol" of British sportsmanship, the cultured perfection of Oxford, and the inviolable honor codes of the English gentleman.

Sent down from Oxford after a wild, drunken party, Paul Pennyfeather is oddly surprised to find himself qualifying for the position of schoolmaster at a boys' private school in Wales. His colleagues are an assortment of misfits, rascals and fools, including Prendy (plagued by doubts) and Captain Grimes, who is always in the soup (or just plain drunk). Then Sports Day arrives, and with it the delectable Margot Beste-Chetwynde, floating on a scented breeze. As the farce unfolds in Evelyn Waugh's dazzling debut as a novelist, the young run riot and no one is safe, least of all Paul.

©1956 Evelyn Waugh (P)2012 Hachette Audio
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Black Humor, Satire, and the Absurd

Paul Pennyfeather is, by no fault of his own, sent down from Oxford for indecent behavior. His only recourse is to get a job teaching at a less-than-prestigious boarding school. While there, he meets the widowed mother of a student, Margot Beste-Chetwynde, with whom he falls in love. This starts a chain of events leading to his decline and fall.

This, Waugh's first published novel, shows him already a master of black humor, satire, and the absurd. The plot is unpredictable, the prose excellent, and the entire book truly funny. While it's not perfection, it is a great, quick read that will have the reader laughing out loud.

Mr. Maloney does excellent voices, narrates well, and the singing episode was hysterically funny. He does tend to read too quickly at times, though, making it a four star performance instead of five.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Breathing life into Waugh's stylish comedy

Michael Maloney does a brilliant job of bringing this witty text to life. All his character impressions are spot on and his rendering of Lady Circumference is excellent and really funny. Waugh's black comedy is relevant today. So much depends on who you know, how much money you've got and what particular circumstances happen to befall you. Paul Pennyfeather is a kind of Everyman that listeners and readers can easily identify with. A brilliant performance of a great book.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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From his earlier, funny period

Michael Maloney is such an exceptional performer: he does incomparable accents, and even sings:) This is typical Waugh buffoonery involving the education of the elite, white slavery, the rich, architecture, the prison system, and a young innocent carried along on a strange tide not of his own making.

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Has not aged too well

A satire mired in jargon and inside jokes for people who went to private school in England in the twenties.

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hilarious!

very enjoyable, fast paced production. the narration was great, the story is very funny. I will definitely add more Evelyn Waugh to my library.

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Reader Rushes Through Story

One of my favorite books, if not my favorite, but ruined by a narrator who rushes through the reading.

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Madcap comedy of errors

My only other experience with Waugh being the oh-so-serious (and Catholic) Brideshead Revisited, I was completely unprepared for this funny and lighthearted tale. It's a bit like a screwball comedy in novel form and like the best screwball comedies, it is short enough that you don't get tired of it before the zaniness has run its course.

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So promising but falls flat

This starts out hilarious and really enjoyable, a comedic send up of the British upper class; but becomes tedious and ridiculous.

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Best Narrator Yet

Would you listen to Decline and Fall again? Why?

New to audible, and watched Decline and Fall as a miniseries, which was so-so. Had read only the most famous Waugh titles, so was new to this one. The story is wonderful, droll, funny and touching. Delightfully absurd and funny. And the narrator, Michael Maloney is with out a doubt the best I've heard. A PERFECT production of this book.

What did you like best about this story?

Waugh -- need I say more? One of the greats.

  • Overall
    out of 5 stars

Great Old Fashion Story

What did you love best about Decline and Fall?

Evelyn Waugh is a bit of an acquired taste. This was a great social farce along the lines of Scoop. It is not Brideshead Revisited but a good comic romp.

What did you like best about this story?

Entertaining

What about Michael Maloney’s performance did you like?

Great performance

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Laugh