I avoided this book for a long time because of my own issues with the period it covers. The wait has been worth it, with the evocation of that time almost sending a chill down the spine. Nicks character is beautifully drawn, both as the device for shining a light on others' behaviour and as a protagonist, and Hollinghurst manages to create both momentum and crippling inertia in equal measures. The weaknesses of all characters are relentlessly exposed, sometimes through quite comic episodes, but this is a true tragedy with an ending built around injustice and the lingering sense that no-one will survive intact. Beautiful book.