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The Stranger's Child
 
 

The Stranger's Child [Kindle Edition]

Alan Hollinghurst
2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (299 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:
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (299 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #8,337 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Tedious and irritating 15 Aug 2012
By nyonya
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Stranger's Child spans a period from before WWI to the early 21st century. All the characters are connected in some way, whether closely or remotely, to the poet Cecil Valance (floruit WWI). Some are lovers, some related, and others merely wish to write his biography or to find out if he was gay. Each section jumps many years from the preceding one (nearly 50 in one instance), and numerous sketchy characters are introduced. Just as you are beginning to understand the main protagonist of that section, you are again whisked 10 years or more into the future, and have to follow the story from another (often new) person's point of view. To add to the confusion, there is no consistency in the use of names: one day it's 'Lady Valance', the next it's 'Louisa'; one minute it's 'Sebby', the next it's 'Stokes'.

One of Valance's ex-lovers describes his poems as 'not much cop'. I'm afraid to say that this book is not much cop either, and I am relieved I only paid 20p for it.
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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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106 of 116 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
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, but for me, narrative drags at times
Overall, I'd give this 3.5 stars. Glad I read this as very elegant prose, interesting format (each chapter is a snapshot over multiple decades) and some intriguing themes (memory,... Read more
Published 19 days ago by Berkshire Bookworm
5.0 out of 5 stars Alan Hollinghurst is a really fantastic writer.
I devoured this book. The generations in this book were so well depicted, the different voices. Very filmic I think too. Read more
Published 27 days ago by paris david
4.0 out of 5 stars Intricately layered and, ultimately, satisfying
My feelings about The Stranger's Child fluctuated whilst I was reading it. Initially it seemed rather derivative, reminiscent of Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead, Handful of Dust sort of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by jonathan
3.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing, but a disappointing end
This isn't the kind of book I normally reach for, but I thought the concept was interesting and soon found myself drawn into the lives of the characters, followed through time,... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Del
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great read
I love Alan Hollinghurst's books. They are erudite and intelligent with just a hint of intellectual sleaze. They are never boring.
Published 1 month ago by John Bailey
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid!
Quite how this got a recommendation to read it I have no idea. I bought it on a recommendation looking for something different. Read more
Published 1 month ago by simclair
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
What a shame ... such a disappointing book. In the end I gave up part way through. I couldn't get to care about the characters and so, despite repeated attempts to push myself... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Surrey
3.0 out of 5 stars florid
One person enthused greatly but many in our group didn’t finish this book. One wanted to finish in order to go on to a more interesting book. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mr. D. P. Jay
1.0 out of 5 stars Poor Stuff
If you like reading a book about gay love that is not very well written and slow to develop, then this is the book for you. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Grumpyman
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
Great book. Thoroughly enjoyed. Have also read In The Line of Beauty. Hollinghurst is a wonderful writer. I wish I was one of the characters in his beautifully written books.
Published 4 months ago by Bebe
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He was asking for memories, too young himself to know that memories were only memories of memories. It was diamond-rare to remember something fresh. &quote;
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‘You really must learn, Mark dear, not to look down on those who have grown up without your own disadvantages,’ &quote;
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Sometimes a book persisted as a coloured shadow at the edge of sight, as vague and unrecapturable as something seen in the rain from a passing vehicle: looked at directly it vanished altogether. Sometimes there were atmospheres, even the rudiments of a scene: a man in an office looking over Regent’s Park, rain in the streets outside – a little blurred etching of a situation she would never, could never, trace back to its source in a novel she had read some time, she thought, in the past thirty years. &quote;
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