The Line of Beauty Hardcover – 16 Apr 2004
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'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 Hollinghursts The Line of Beauty deserves all the praise that has been heaped upon it. -- Geoff Dyer, Daily Telegraph
Alan Hollinghursts The Line of Beauty is the best new novel I have read for some years. -- John Lanchester, Daily Telegraph
Alan Hollinghursts The Line of Beauty is the first Booker prize winner in years to deserve it -- Barry Humphries, Sunday Telegraph
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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After finishing Oxford in 1983, Nick Guest lodges with the family of his unrequited love interest, the son of an up and coming MP. Read morePublished 2 months ago by rwmg
I did not enjoy this book, but my daughter did, which just goes to show we are all different.Published 3 months ago by Lizzi m
really enjoyed this some very commical momments. Good characterization well writtenPublished 5 months ago by Fiona Austen
I loved this book, he is a truly brilliant writer and I envy those who have not read it, what a treat in store.Published 9 months ago by Rebecca Chapman
This is kind of a scary version of "The Go Between" in the 1980's and 1990's. It won the Booker Prize. It's a good book but might leave you feeling a bit sad.Published 12 months ago by lepcla