The Line of Beauty Audio CD – Sep 1 2005
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Interview with Alan Hollinghurst
Alan Hollinghurst's extraordinarily rich novel The Line of Beauty. has garnered a new level of acclaim for the author after winning the 2004 Man Booker Prize. Hollinghurst speaks about his work in our interview.
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Among its other wonders, this almost perfectly written novel, recently longlisted for the Man Booker, delineates what's arguably the most coruscating portrait of a plutocracy since Goya painted the Spanish Bourbons. To shade in the nuances of class, Hollingsworth uses plot the way it was meant to be used—not as a line of utility, but as a thematically connected sequence of events that creates its own mini-value system and symbols.The book is divided into three sections, dated 1983, 1986 and 1987. The protagonist, Nick Guest, is a James scholar in the making and a tripper in the fast gay culture of the time. The first section shows Nick moving into the Notting Hill mansion of Gerald Fedden, one of Thatcher's Tory MPs, at the request of the minister's son, Toby, Nick's all-too-straight Oxford crush. Nick becomes Toby's sister Catherine's confidante, securing his place in the house, and loses his virginity spectacularly to Leo, a black council worker. The next section jumps the reader ahead to a more sophisticated Nick. Leo has dropped out of the picture; cocaine, three-ways and another Oxford alum, the sinisterly alluring, wealthy Lebanese Wani Ouradi, have taken his place. Nick is dimly aware of running too many risks with Wani, and becomes accidentally aware that Gerald is running a few, too. Disaster comes in 1987, with a media scandal that engulfs Gerald and then entangles Nick. While Hollinghurst's story has the true feel of Jamesian drama, it is the authorial intelligence illuminating otherwise trivial pieces of story business so as to make them seem alive and mysteriously significant that gives the most pleasure. This is Nick coming home for the first and only time with the closeted Leo: "there were two front doors set side by side in the shallow recess of the porch. Leo applied himself to the right hand one, and it was one of those locks that require tender probings and tuggings, infinitesimal withdrawals, to get the key to turn." This novel has the air of a classic.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
If you want an engaging read with both style and substance, dust off "Brideshead Revisited", "Vile Bodies", or "Scoop" instead.
Here are the worlds that Guest helps us explore:
-Tory MP life during the Thatcher years
-Young Oxford graduates looking for a place
-A young man exploring his homosexuality
-Wealthy British on the make for more
-Middle-aged married life
-Inner life of a young manic-depressive
The book's overall theme is about everyday hypocrisy and the large price that has to be paid by those who pretend to be other than what they are and believe.
The story evolves in three time periods: 1983, 1986, and 1987. In all three years, Nick Guest resides with the family of an Oxford friend where the father is a rising conservative MP. Nick has an unofficial role as low-cost lodger to keep on eye on the friend's troubled sister. The family knows that Nick is looking for a boy friend and is open about accepting his sexuality. The three years give us a chance to learn more about the characters and to see how their relationships change. The 1987 period brings all that had been known in private into public with large consequences for all.
The book is filled with great scenes where nuances of knowledge, awareness, perception, accent, and perspective separate and unite the characters. Often, contrasting scenes occur back-to-back so that the contrasts are even more obvious.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Beautifully written, full of complex characters and details of London in the 1980's. In a sense the protagonist, Nick Guest is a newer version of Charles Ryder from "Brideshead... Read morePublished on Jan. 3 2005
What a beautifully written, crafted, structured story. In these ways, it reminded me of the American novel A SECRET WORD by Paddock, with the layering, multifaceted effect of... Read morePublished on Oct. 22 2004
When I heard this book had won this year's booker prize over Mitchell's CLoud Atlas (which I loved) I was incredibly dissapointed. Read morePublished on Oct. 21 2004 by A. Hicks
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