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The Stranger’s Child – Alan Hollinghurst

I borrowed this from the library after reading about it somewhere (I can’t remember where). I enjoyed it it reminded me a bit of Brideshead Revisited.

Here is the blurb …

 Alan Hollinghurst’s first novel in seven years is a magnificent, century-spanning saga about a love triangle that spawns a myth – and a family mystery – across generations.

In 1913, George Sawle brings charming, handsome Cecil Valance to his family’s modest home outside London for a summer weekend. George is enthralled by his Cambridge schoolmate, and soon his sixteen-year-old sister, Daphne, is equally besotted by both Cecil and the stories he tells about Corley Court, the country estate he is heir to. But what Cecil writes in Daphne’s autograph album will change their and their families’ lives forever: a poem that, after Cecil is killed in the Great War and his reputation burnished, will be recited by every schoolchild in England. Over time, a tragic love story is spun, even as other secrets lie buried – until, decades later, an ambitious biographer threatens to unearth them.

Rich with the author’s signature gifts – haunting sensuality, wicked humor, and exquisite lyricism – The Stranger’s Child is a tour de force: a masterly novel about the lingering power of desire, and about how the heart creates its own history.

It is beautifully written – I do like beautiful prose – the story unfolds gradually and even at the end I wasn’t sure how aware Daphne was of Cecil and George’s relationship. It was also fascinating to witness the change in characters over time – George young and enthusiastic to confused old age and who would have picked that Daphne would marry three times and have such bohemian tendencies? Even the passage of time on places was interested – Corley Court turned into a school, Two Acres into a housing development. There was a real sense of time passing and certainly for the gay people in the novel more openness and freedom. It is a very masculine world – there aren’t many women and apart from Daphne women are peripheral to the story.

Reviews …




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