Customer Reviews


 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twenty years on this is still superb!
I read this book twenty years ago when it first came out. Although I remember loving it, I've always had it linked in my head with a strange experience I had with finding some letters belonging to an elderly vicar in a library copy (it's a long story, and given the themes of the book oddly appropriate and the vicar proved to be quite hard to shake off!)so although I've...
Published on 7 Feb. 2008 by reviewsrevues

versus
31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Kindle version riddled with typos
Enjoyable novel, much in the vein of Hollinghurt's other work. But honestly, couldn't the publisher bother to proof-read the electronic version...? Appears as if they have scanned a hard copy and it just hasn't decoded the text properly. 1 instead of I; d instead of cl; closed gaps between words; others word just complete garbage. Given there is in error on every page or...
Published on 7 April 2011 by FD


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Twenty years on this is still superb!, 7 Feb. 2008
By 
reviewsrevues (Isle of Wight UK) - See all my reviews
I read this book twenty years ago when it first came out. Although I remember loving it, I've always had it linked in my head with a strange experience I had with finding some letters belonging to an elderly vicar in a library copy (it's a long story, and given the themes of the book oddly appropriate and the vicar proved to be quite hard to shake off!)so although I've read and really enjoyed other Hollinghurst books (didn't go a great deal on "The Spell")I've never gone back to this one. Until now. I thought the twenty years might have dulled its appeal, but it is an outstanding novel. It probably was one of the first UK books to have gay life as a central theme within a literary framework and it still has the power to draw the reader in, to shock, to surprise and to entertain. And it is so well written. I thought because I'm now twenty years older the slightly old-fashioned class and race aspects might leave me cold, but they didn't. It's an incredibly intense and rich novel, which repays re-reading (even if you leave it 20 years like I did). It is remarkably honest and sexy. I'm going to re-read the other Hollinghurst novels - because here I think we may have one of our greatest living authors- I might even give "The Spell" another try.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Kindle version riddled with typos, 7 April 2011
By 
FD (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Swimming-Pool Library (Vintage Blue) (Kindle Edition)
Enjoyable novel, much in the vein of Hollinghurt's other work. But honestly, couldn't the publisher bother to proof-read the electronic version...? Appears as if they have scanned a hard copy and it just hasn't decoded the text properly. 1 instead of I; d instead of cl; closed gaps between words; others word just complete garbage. Given there is in error on every page or two it really gets in the way of enjoying the book. As the Kindle edition sells for the same price as the paperback it does feel like we're being taken for a ride.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent story compromised, 16 May 2011
By 
Paul Christian "gogolesque" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
There is a decent story in this book but unfortunately the author's constant reversion to gratuitous and extraneous descriptions of sex rather detract from it. Having created the most dreadful and unlikeable main character, the selfish, vain and utterly loathesome Will, the writing, whilst good at times, degenerates regularly into juvenile descriptions of sex, featuring the dreadful Will and his constant flow of liasons and 'partners' none of whom I'd imagine would find such a ruthlessly self centred vaccuous person attractive.
The ostensible main story is thoroughly spoiled by these incessant diversions and I'd have to say that when the whole book is taken into account, it is disappointing. I'm rather curious as to the writer's motivation for the inclusion of some of these rather jolting distractions, but as the book progressed, they became so dull and dreary, that one found oneself skimming through until yet another of these episodes was over with.
It's rather a pity as some of the writing is good and the main story, had it been concentrated on rather more and a less odious dramatis personae created, could have been much better.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


56 of 62 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly realised and frequently steamy novel, 13 Mar. 2001
By A Customer
The world of this book is a rather specific one - that of the male gay Englishman in the 20th century, so if you aren't male, or gay, or English, you might want to pop your head out of the book and gasp for air every so often. Also the graphic descriptions of homosexual congress can make it an uncomfortable read on crowded commuter trains, as I discovered to my cost. Having said that, the book is well, if lavishly, written, and the interlocking tales of danger and desire work together to produce a brilliantly cohesive picture of the evolution of English gay life before the onset of AIDS. The story centres on the relationship between the narrator, a privileged and promiscuous young aristocrat, and the elderly Lord Nantwich, whose life he saves in a public toilet. Nantwich turns out to have had quite an eventful life, as we discover when the narrator is asked to write his biography. The depictions of white boys attracted to black boys are particularly well-handled, and the twists and turns of the plot never take you where you expect. The book's world may be insular, but its immersion in and explication of that world is brilliantly realised.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WAS IT WORTH THE HYPE?, 13 Jun. 2008
By 
The first Hollinghusrts book I read was "the folding star" and I thought it was a very good book, full of great characters and unforseen twists and turns and on that level i wasn't disappointed when i came to the much hyped "the swimming-pool library".

Just like "The folding star" Hollinghurst's debut novel is packed with original characters from the eccentric Lord Nantwich and his string of colourful butlers, the main character the Hon Charles Beckwith who stumbles from boy to boy and club to club and Charles's hilarious young nephew Rupert.

The book tells two stories, through Charles himself and through the diarys of Lord Nantwich that he reads. The diarys span decades and recount his experiences of such far off places as Africa and back to London introducing us to a variety of eccentric characters.

Overall I give this book four stars because allthough the story is great it does drag in places and all the "darling" and "dear" does get rather tedious.

As I said earlier having read both "The swimming-pool library" and "The folding star" it seems that with each book Alan Hollinghurst gets better.

I will be ordering his next book "The spell" soon and look forward to reviewing it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Writing of the first rank, 27 April 2012
This is a very fine novel, beautifully written and quintessentially English, drenched in the atmosphere of London; it's amusing, provocative, shocking, and yes, sad - sad in the sense that people who gives themselves over to their sexual appetites and to gratifying their momentary physical needs with such devotion seem to construct a prison for themselves, heterosexual or gay. This is a lavish portrait of suffering, yet intelligent and eminently readable.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars just brilliant!, 21 Nov. 2006
By 
A reader (brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
Wow. This is a literary but very erotic book which takes for its subject a hidden English sexual subculture which doesn't often register in mainstream life. I would recommend it to people of all sexualities.

The main focus is on metropolitan gay life in the early 1980s, before AIDS, and the novel's protagonist William Beckwith is suitably hedonistic and frequently debauched. He's not always likeable but the sensuous and sensual character of Hollinghurst's prose keeps you reading as you enter seedy flats, exclusive gentlemen's clubs and darkened caverns.

Hollinghurst's graceful, elegant prose is the work of a mind which has digested a library-load of English prose. Despite its forays into underground porn cinemas and gay cottaging, this is a book which is deeply aware of tradition and the relationship between history and the present; the dead haunt every page.

Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Author but does it need the volume of graphic sex?, 2 Jan. 2012
By 
janien (hampshire, UK) - See all my reviews
The Swimming Pool library is set in 1983 pre AIDS London and focusses on a highly sexed gay young rich (not particularly likeable) man who doesn't have much to do other than scoring, largely with total strangers and who is then given a job by an elderly peer to write his biography, with surprising revelations.

Honestly it was good to start with in its inevitable shocking sense but just got so tedius very quickly. Surely the main character could find other things to do for the majority of the day other than seeking or having sex with lovers and total strangers including in porn cinemas, public toilets, etc. etc.

But there was a reasonable story behind the soft porn and the book is well written by the author so overall i gave it a good rating and worth reading. Just less of the graphical sex would have been the icing on this books cake.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining romp, 9 Sept. 2012
By 
Diana Foster (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Swimming-Pool Library (Vintage Blue) (Kindle Edition)
In a review for Hollinghurst's 'The Line of Beauty' I described the first eleven chapters as 'absurdly entertaining.' I would say the same of much of 'The Swimming Pool Library.' It provides a real insight into gay life and is highly entertaining. My only reason for not giving this book five stars is that many of the descriptive passages are over blown and I found Lord Nantwich's diary entries tedious. Once again I think that Alan Hollinghurts needs a good editor. Nevertheless I would give this novel the highest recommendation for entertainment value. I also like the way that the author goes inside his narrator's head and describes his thoughts and feelings. I have now read this and 'The Line of Beauty' and 'The Stranger's Child.' What next? Am I ready yet for some Edmund White?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sumptuous writing, 13 Jan. 2004
By 
ch0pper "ch0pper" (SOUTHAMPTON, Hampshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Like all of Hollinghurst's writing, this book will not suit the average tabloid-reader with a limited vocabulary. If your idea of the acme of writing is Jeffrey Archer be prepared for a far richers and more rewarding experience.
Whilst the story is a racy delve into the darker parts of gay life it is not without its lighter moments. There is drama, comedy and tragedy to be found here.
Although the subject matter is modern the writing seems to come from another altogether more refined era. The author will challenge your broader cultural knowledge with his witty asides and the fullness of the characters. They are fully-rounded and flawed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 4 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Swimming-Pool Library (Vintage Blue)
£5.29
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews