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The Line of Beauty Hardcover – 16 Apr 2004

3.6 out of 5 stars 176 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (16 April 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 033048320X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330483209
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 4.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 46,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'How to recommend last year's Booker-winner highly enough? It's hard - Hollinghurst's Eighties-set soap is hypnotically good.' -- Evening Standard

'the best-deserving Booker winner ever' -- Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times

A classic of our times… The work of a great English stylist in full maturity; a masterpiece. -- Observer

A magnificent novel... There are literally thousands of impeccably nuanced touches. -- Daily Telegraph

Luminous... [an] astonishingly Jamesian novel. -- The Times

Must rank among the funniest [novels] ever written about Thatcher's Britain, while remaining one of the most tragically sad. -- Financial Times

‘... it is perhaps the book that Henry James would have written if he were alive now.’ -- Kate Atkinson, Daily Telegraph

‘Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty deserves all the praise that has been heaped upon it.’ -- Geoff Dyer, Daily Telegraph

‘Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty is the best new novel I have read for some years.’ -- John Lanchester, Daily Telegraph

‘Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty is the first Booker prize winner in years to deserve it…’ -- Barry Humphries, Sunday Telegraph

Book Description

Winner of the Man Booker Prize 2004, The Line of Beauty is a perfectly realised tale of our times. 'The work of a great English stylist in full maturity; a masterpiece' Observer --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"It's about someone who loves things more than people. And who ends up with nothing, of course. I know it's bleak, but then I think it's probably a very bleak book, even though it's essentially a comedy." This is Nick Guest, the central character in Alan Hollinghurst's marvellous fourth novel, actually speaking about Henry James' book "The Spoils of Poynton", which he has been turning into a (doomed, of course) film script. However, in a typical instance of Hollinghurst's scalpel-sharp irony, both the reader and Nick himself realise just as he speaks these words that he might as well be discussing his own narrative.
Like a lot of people, I was mildly surprised (not having read the book) when it won the Booker prize, and at first I wasn't convinced: social satire has arguably been done to death, and many of us would probably rather forget the whole yuppie, Thatcherite era. However, there is far more to this book - which is indeed surprisingly bleak despite often being laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes in the same paragraph - than mere social satire. The appropriately named Nick Guest is a rather impressionable young gay man who finds himself attached to the family of his university pal Toby Fedden, who is terribly nice but frightfully posh and unequivocally straight. The Fedden family - including father Gerald, an upwardly-mobile Tory MP and mother Rachel who comes from Old Money - find it quite handy to have Nick around as official Gay Buddy and unofficial minder for their mentally unstable daughter Catherine. However, Nick's affairs are more complicated than they seem, and while on the surface he is all polished charm, he is becoming ever more deeply embroiled in a damaging clandestine relationship with millionaire playboy Wani Ouradi, including random threesomes and heavy cocaine use.
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By A Customer on 16 Feb. 2006
Format: Hardcover
The book begins in 1983 when Nick Guest, freshly graduated from Oxford, is given lodgings at his friend's parents house in London while he finds his feet. The house is owned by Gerald Fedden, a wealthy and ambitious Tory M.P. used to a life of luxury and privelege. Though lacking title, money or ambition, Nick is captivated by this glamourous scene and inveigles himself into the Fedden's life. As the hubris of the 80s gathers momentum, Nick finds himself circulating in the highest echelons of a society riddled with snobbery and greed to which he never really belongs. Aware that his precarious social position is dependent on his being charming, clever and inoffensive at all times, Nick is acutely observant of the people and places he visits. The novel concentrates on both Nick's experiences as the eternal hanger-on in the Fedden's world and his homosexual relationships during this time and the onset of the AIDS epidemic.
The characters are well-drawn and often amusing as they carefully maintain their social position or strive for ever more. The author wisely makes the Fedden's (even the buffoon Gerald) and their 'eternal guest' likeable. This is the first Alan Hollinghurst book I've read and, although I initially thought: "Oh no, not another English author completely obsessed about class", I soon found myself thoroughly enjoying it. The writing style is exquisite: elegant and understated; and the observations succinct and telling. It's one of the best novels I've read in quite a while.
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Format: Paperback
This book is about love, rejection, and the obsession with beauty. Although a little slow to begin with, the reader is soon lost in the story of a poor graduate trying to find love and keep up with his rich university friends as the 1980s enfold about him. The narrative is sublime and I was impressed by how well the author managed issues such as homosexuality, pursuit of power, adultery, friendship, AIDS, rejection and love with both realism and a frequent sprinkling of comedy. This was an immensely enjoyable book, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys well-written, original prose that makes you think.
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Format: Hardcover
This truly is as fine a novel as the other reviews suggest, and without doubt also the author's best yet. The writing is of exquisite quality, in its sense of the weight and implications of words, its impeccable ear for dialogue, and its sensitivity to every social nuance, whether at a cruising ground or a Tory party fundraising event. And it's superbly funny too, without ever seeming to cast about for a laugh.
What gives it a special depth is the play with a point of view. Every scene is told from the viewpoint of the central character, Nick, but related in the third person. And it's such a natural-seeming narrative form that its subtleties are easily overlooked.
We understand from the start that the hero is essentially selfish, though this selfishness is inflected by an eagerness to please, a fine and informed aesthetic sense, and a genuine curiosity about other people. So the ruthlessness and parasitism which this self-seeking lead him too - sexually, financially, pharmaceutically - is always countered, as we read, by the pleasure of sharing in his aesthete's point of view. When the public and private secrets emerge in the final chapters, the impact is devastating: suddenly we see in full the implications of Nick's selfishness, as he too comes to understand something of them; and simultaneously we learn how others have come to see him, as they turn on him and speak their minds, and he has no words in answer.
So we have at once an exposure of the truth, and an acknowledgement that there are as many individual truths as there are individuals in the plot. All this is fully in the tradition of Henry James, whose works Nick is studying in a desultory postgraduate way, and whose 'The Spoils of Poynton' features as the subject of a half-hearted and foredoomed film treatment.
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