Evelyn Waugh tells the story of the Marchmain family. Aristocratic, beautiful and charming, the Marchmains are indeed a symbol of England and her decline in this novel of the upper class of the 1920s and the abdication of responsibility in the 1930s.
From the Merriam Webster Encyclopedia of Literature: This satirical novel by Evelyn Waugh was first published in 1945. According to Waugh, a convert to Roman Catholicism, the novel was intended to show "the operation of divine grace" in the affairs of a particular group of people. This is revealed through the story of the wealthy Roman Catholic Marchmain family as told by Charles Ryder, a friend of the family. Despite the seeming indifference to, or outright repudiation of, the Church by various members of the family, particularly Lord Marchmain, his daughter Julia, and his son Sebastian, by the end of the novel each has shown some sign of acceptance of the faith.
About the author: Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966) was born in Hampstead, England, into a family of publishers and writers. He was educated at Lancing and at Hertford College, Oxford, where he majored in modern history. Waugh's first book, A Life of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was published in 1928. Soon afterward his first novel, Decline and Fall, appeared and his career was sensationally launched. In fifteen novels of cunning construction and lapidary eloquence, Time summarized later, Evelyn Waugh developed a wickedly hilarious yet fundamentally religious assault on a century that, in his opinion, had ripped up the nourishing taproot of tradition and let wither all the dear things of the world. Apart from his novels, Waugh also wrote several acclaimed travel books, two additional biographies, and an autobiography, A Little Learning
"First and last an enchanting story....Brideshead Revisited has a magic that is rare in current literature. It is a world in itself, and the reader lives in it and is loth to leave it when the last page is turned." - E. C. Chilton, Saturday Review
"A many-faceted book...beautifully told by one of the most exhilarating stylists of our time." - Newsweek
"Waugh's most deeply felt novel....Brideshead Revisited tells an absorbing story in imaginative terms. By indirection it summarizes and comments upon a time and a society. . . . Mr. Waugh is very definitely an artist, with something like a genius for precision and clarity not surpassed by any novelist writing in English in his time." -John K. Hutchens, New York Times
"This is Waugh's best. Can one say more of genius?" - E. L. Lewis, Library Journal