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The Stranger's Child
 
 

The Stranger's Child [Kindle Edition]

Alan Hollinghurst
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (316 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Product Description

Review

"'With The Stranger's Child, an already remarkable talent unfurls into something spectacular' Sunday Times 'I would compare the novel to Middlemarch... a remarkable, unmissable achievement' Independent 'Magnificent... universally acclaimed as the best novel of the year' Philip Hensher"

Review

"'With The Stranger's Child, an already remarkable talent unfurls into something spectacular' Sunday Times 'I would compare the novel to Middlemarch... a remarkable, unmissable achievement' Independent 'Magnificent... universally acclaimed as the best novel of the year' Philip Hensher"

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 751 KB
  • Print Length: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (27 Jun 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00500YCCC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (316 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,979 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
100 of 108 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Forster's Epigone? 2 Nov 2011
By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Hollinghurst often reminds me of E.M.Forster with his nostalgia for the early C20 and his focus on the minute details of people's thoughts, observations of one another and interrelationships, all presented in well-crafted prose (apart from the odd clunky phrase like "she said carryingly").

Charismatic, arrogant and manipulative, the aristocratic Cecil Valance achieves a possibly undeserved popularity as a poet after his early death in the First World War. Can the truth of his life ever be told by biographers? This seems unlikely since even those who claim to know him have very different perceptions. In five separate sections separated by gaps of several years or even decades, the author aims to show the false nature of memory.

You could argue that Hollinghurst is daring in discarding many of the "conventions" of novel-writing. The development of a strong plot is given second place to what often reads like a series of short stories: portrayals of characters who make only brief appearances, or the description of quite minor incidents, evocative of past generations, but very amusing, ludicrous or in the style of a black comedy. The author tends to build up anticipation of a certain outcome, only for it not to occur, insofar as one can judge! Significant events are frequently no more than implied.

Although this book promises much, my growing suspicion that it would not deliver proved justified. It suffers from being too long, repetitive in its limited revelations and self-indulgent, not least in its campness - I grew tired of "blushing" and "giggling" men of all ages.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I Felt A Stranger In Hollinghurst's World... 20 Nov 2011
By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Before I go into what I hope will be a fair critique of `The Strangers Child' I should really discuss the premise of it. The novel is really a tale of people of years and years, the novel itself is told in five sections each relating to a different decade. The two main characters, well I thought they were the main force of the story though others may disagree, Cecil Valance and Daphne Sawle meet, along with Daphne's brother George who is equally smitten with Cecil (this made me think of `Brideshead Revisited' though apparently that's not something you should say to Mr Hollinghurst, oops, but it does give the book a slight feel of `oh haven't I been here before?') and really we follow their lives from their first meeting and join them at various points in time as the book progresses.

As much as I am being vague to not give any spoilers away, I was also slightly at a loss as to why we meet these characters when we do, and why they tend to wander off. Yes, that's real life... well possibly real life if you are very rich and can spend life being unlikeable yet fabulous. These points in time, to me, didn't seem pivotal, and I couldn't get a hold on them. I didn't mind the fact they were all rather unlikeable but as the novel progressed I just kept thinking `where is this going, and do I care?' Some will say the rather random way in which the book is written is one of the cleverest points of the novel, really? I don't expect my books linear at all, yet I sometimes wonder if `clever' (which is the word I have seen in many reviews) is a good way of describing `we don't get it and so it must be the authors intention to be a little unconventional, it's the art of the book... how clever'. Hmmmm.
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111 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glad to have loved it 7 Aug 2011
By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
I read The Stranger's Child with some trepidation having not greatly enjoyed Line Of Beauty. I had pigeon holed Alan Hollinghurst as a pompous man who was obsessed by the class system, big houses, Oxbridge and gay sex. After reading the first part of The Stranger's Child, I was reassured to see that my prejudices were well founded. A book I could truly loathe.

But as the novel wore on, something quite subtle happened. It became more and more engrossing - the gradual layering of history; the changing perceptions over time. Cecil the dandy of Part One became a hero, and then a cult and finally a distant and second hand memory. His light burned brightly for a while, but he slipped back to the marginalia of literature.

Hollinghurst's technique is to report very few events in real time. He narrates through set piece parties, gatherings, weekends when conversation turns to past events. This can be frustrating at first (and I don't think it ever stopped being frustrating in Line of Beauty) but it is used to very good effect in The Stranger's Child - allowing different perspectives and allowing changes in perception or opinion over time. This was echoed in Cecil's most famous poem, Two Acres, and his letters - being controlled, edited and drip fed by those holding the documents to amend public perception of the man. By the end, the real Cecil was irrelevant - people each had their own personal agenda to pursue and the memory of the man was manipulated to those ends.

The writing, whilst well done, is not particularly flowery or pompous. The pomposity of the opening sections mellows and by the end, one is prepared to accept that it derives from the characters and situations rather than the author.
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