Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst

Wow, I'm behind on my book postings!

I finished this book a month ago and haven't gotten around to posting about it. It was a surprisingly gripping read, considering it's billed as a political/social satire of Thatcherite London, which doesn't sound all that involving. The protagonist (but certainly not a hero!) is Nick Guest, a Henry James scholar at loose ends after graduating university. He stays with the family of a university friend, headed by Gerald, a Tory MP, helping out with their disturbed daughter and dabbling in his newfound homosexuality. The backdrop is London in 1983, 1986, and 1987, so the specter of AIDS hangs inevitably over Nick's life. Nick never really "does" anything, in a career sort of way, and seems to drift through life. You might think this would make him an unsympathetic character, but strangely, it illuminates the life of a gay man in a conservative society. Hollinghurst is an extraordinary writer, with rich, precise prose, and this was a pleasure to read. I will be looking for his other novels as well.

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