Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh, 1944

The basis of a PBS series and a movie, this is a superb book with memorable characters (especially Charles Ryder, Sebastian Flyte and his sister Julia, Anthony Blanche) depicting the decline of the British aristocracy and Great Houses between the wars. From Oxford to Morocco this is a stunning tale of friendship, love, loss, and self- and other-destructiveness.   Waugh (b. 1903-d.1966) converted to Catholicism during this period and undercurrents of anti-Semitism, homophobia, and both pro- and anti- British bias abound.  Like the William Boyd, Dennis Lehane, and James Salter novels, this is a Bildungsroman with a huge arc and a grand tale.