This novel is well-written, and vacillates between extremely well-written fiction and minutely detailed erotica. The story centers around Will, a promiscuous, narcisscistic, wealthy gay young Londoner in the pre-AIDS era of the early 1980's. Will has no financial or moral restrictions. He leads us on a journey through the hot summer of 1983, that is at times graphic, and also historically engrossing.
Will Beckwith's adventures are by far some of the most graphically-detailed I have ever read, but highly erotic for both gay and straight readers. Concurrently, Will encounters an elderly British Lord who wants Will to write his life story. There is an undercurrent of duplicity in all of his relationships, from his passionate, physical affair with the young, uneducated hotel employee, Phil, to the exact nature of his professional dealings with his Lordship. Also, there is a pitying tone to his relationship with his best friend, a doctor who is also gay, but who is the only person who seems to have Will's heart, instead of his libido.
This is not your ordinary novel. Alan Hollinghurst is an extremely intelligent writer, who can also write with an almost animalistic sense of depravity. It is almost like reading two novels; on one page, extremely explicit sex, on another, intellectual stimulation. It is certainly one of the most unique books of its kind I have ever read.