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The Stranger's Child [Kindle Edition]

Alan Hollinghurst
2.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (325 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

The Sunday Times Novel of the Year ‘With The Stranger’s Child, an already remarkable talent unfurls into something spectacular’ Sunday Times In the late summer of 1913, George Sawle brings his Cambridge friend Cecil Valance, a charismatic young poet, to visit his family home. Filled with intimacies and confusions, the weekend will link the families for ever, having the most lasting impact on George’s sixteen-year-old sister Daphne. As the decades pass, Daphne and those around her endure startling changes in fortune and circumstance, reputations rise and fall, secrets are revealed and hidden and the events of that long-ago summer become part of a legendary story, told and interpreted in different ways by successive generations. Powerful, absorbing and richly comic, The Stranger’s Child is a masterly exploration of English culture, taste and attitudes over a century of change. ‘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 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: 800 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 (325 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #19,931 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
103 of 111 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a grand, ambitious novel 24 Jun. 2013
By Stanley Crowe TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
I haven't read any of Alan Hollinghurst's previous work, but I'm impressed by this one. What follows are notes on aspects of it that I found interesting;

TITLE: The stranger's child is Cecil Valance, who comes in 1913 as a visitor to Two Acres, home of the widowed Freda Sawle and her three children. The middle child, George, brings Cecil from Cambridge, where the two are members of the Apostles, an intellectual club-cum-debating society with a strong homosexual component to its membership. Cecil's family is from a higher social class -- his home Corley Court is quite grand in Victorian Gothic manner -- and he is a budding poet who, while at Two Acres, writes a poem in the autograph book of Daphne Sawle that becomes a "classic" of pre- WW1 England in something of the manner of Rupert Brooke's "If I should die . . ." (Brooke is mentioned, as is Lytton Strachey, as Apostles known, though not well, to Cecil and George). But Cecil is the stranger's child in another sense -- after his death in battle in 1916, and after his poems become better known, he becomes in effect the child of strangers, people in later generations who for aesthetic, economic, and sexual reasons are fascinated by his story. The final section of the book, set early in the 21st Century, shows him still an object of fascination. He is, however, never pinned down; he remains a mystery to the end. In the opening section -- the only one in which he is alive -- we are given no access to his inner life. All we know of him we have to infer from the reactions of the Sawle household. "The stranger's child" is also a phrase from Tennyson's "In Memoriam" (T. had also been an "Apostle"), and the section of the poem in which it appears is read by Cecil in the first section of the book.
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114 of 125 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars A disappointing read.
Firstly, this is a beautifully written and descriptive book. However, I am now 2/3 of the way through it and find that I am only picking it up only because I need to finish it. Read more
Published 23 days ago by L J. Atkinson
3.0 out of 5 stars Clever, but clunky: EM Forster with a dash of Proust?
This was a Sunday Times Book of the Year, written by an award-winning novelist and poet who both studied and lectured at Oxford and who edited the TLS, so you'd expect something... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bookwoman
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good
Published 1 month ago by la
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
v good
Published 2 months ago by Mr. David Jones
1.0 out of 5 stars Not one of mine
Not one of mine
Published 2 months ago by M. Reading
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good read
Published 3 months ago by lindalouiser
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Unfortunately this novel is much too long, and the ending is extremely disappointing. You never find out who the "stranger's child" is, and that is the only reason why I... Read more
Published 4 months ago by carolinee
2.0 out of 5 stars The first two thirds were excellent, constantly introducing new...
The first two thirds were excellent, constantly introducing new interesting characters in supple English. Read more
Published 4 months ago by J. Arton
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
OK holiday read
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Good for those who enjoy poetry but don't expect too much...
This is the first (and most probably the last) book written by Alan Hollinghurst I have read. The promise of intrigue and revelations of secrets that had been kept over decades... Read more
Published 4 months ago by H de Fanque
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