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The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst
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The Stranger's Child (original 2011; edition 2011)

by Alan Hollinghurst

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1,033568,188 (3.52)1 / 166
Member:CliveDorset
Title:The Stranger's Child
Authors:Alan Hollinghurst
Info:Picador USA (2011), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 512 pages
Collections:Read, Your library
Rating:***
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The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst (2011)

  1. 00
    Atonement by Ian McEwan (rrmmff2000)
  2. 00
    Possession: A Romance by A. S. Byatt (kylenapoli)
    kylenapoli: Gives the reader a similar backstage view of 'what really happened' and how it is misremembered, misrepresented, and otherwise lost to time.
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Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
I've had this novel on my shelf for a couple of years now, somewhat avoiding it as I loved [The Line of Beauty] and enjoyed (to a slightly lesser extent) [The Swimming-Pool Library]. [The Stranger's Child] got very mixed reviews after it was published, and I was afraid it might spoil my good Hollinghurst run.

As it turned out I really enjoyed it. An epic of a family saga, [The Stranger's Child] covers almost a century of family revelations all stemming from the brief but unforgettable life of Cecil Valance, the charismatic and rakish poet of the family who was killed in the First World War. Despite dying at a young age, his legacy permeated the family for years to come, with Hollinghurst very cleverly using the ongoing literary interest in his poetry - and the secrets of his private life - as a way to link together the family stories throughout the decades.

Like all Hollinghurst books, much of the story revolves around the homosexual relations between a number of the central characters, but this gives an interesting alternative narrative to the usual typical upper class country house saga, particularly in the first half of the book covering the pre and post war periods (although somewhat unbelievably there seemed to be hardly a straight man amongst them despite almost a century of marriages).

It's not a perfect book - there were parts in the middle of this longish novel where my attention waned - but in all it's an interesting tale of family debauchery and broken relationships, and as ever I enjoyed Hollinghurst's style of prose. Paul, the main protagonist for the second half of the book, was an intentionally dull character, and I felt his dullness unfortunately permeated the story a little, but still the last 150 pages or so had me gripped.

It's not easy to pull off an epic style book, but I think Hollinghurst just about managed it. ( )
  AlisonY | Mar 28, 2015 |
I have had this novel around for some time, and, as I had recently enjoyed a recent Graham Swift book so much, it was a good time to stay in the British mode. Hollinghurst's book lays out a grand story, one that plays out over several generations, and it was a fascinating look at the changing culture and economy in England. It's almost like Downton Abbey, if you didn't focus as much on the downstairs/upstairs split as much. Having said that, there are some characters who are of the servant class that reveal major parts of the story, but most of the book revolves around the rich, the pretty women and the handsome men that dominate this novel's pages.

As I have mentioned in many of my reviews, I tend to grind my teeth and despair at all the books and films that concentrate on the lives of the privileged and beautiful. Many of them seem prime material for elimination, or least incarceration—but that's just me.

Much of the beginning of the story is centered on the flashy Cecil Valance and loyal George Sawle. Their relationship, Cecil's poetry, and Cecil's relationship with George's sister Daphne, carry through to the plot's end. It touching and a strong part of the cultural changes involved in the story—the the gay relationships, and how open and talked about they become in time. I really warmed to the characters as the story progressed.

The whole historical quandary of how so many of the landed families coped with the dismal economics of this period brings forward a profound sadness in me. All these families trying to maintain these enormous estates and homes always gets to me, even if they are such dinosaurs of the times. Having lost the only home I ever owned to foreclosure, it makes me much more sympathetic to these somewhat pointy-headed rich types.

So much of the book is about people's histories and a number of powerful love stories that play out around and through these people's lives. There's a lot going on, involving deceptions and the mysteries of life that made this a most touching book. ( )
  jphamilton | Jul 27, 2014 |
Mentioned in an insiders article about WW1. Available Prahran
  decore | Jul 24, 2014 |
Hollinghurst is fifty and he's still writing about boys and their capacity for stratospheric ejaculation. Snoresville. ( )
  William345 | Jun 11, 2014 |
A very clever, entertaining novel, taking us on a lightning tour of twentieth century British literary history in a series of elegant pastiches linked by the changing reputation of a poet killed in the First World War. Possibly just a little bit too full of itself to be really satisfying as a novel - I was left with a sneaking suspicion that it does for the Georgian poets what Possession did for the mid-Victorians - but in between all the textual playfulness it does raise a few serious questions about the nature of memory, evidence and reputation, and about the dubious role of the biographer. ( )
  thorold | Jan 7, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 51 (next | show all)
För en litteraturvetare är romanen förstås rena tivolit, med sina beskrivningar av research, intervjuer med mer eller mindre frispråkiga släktingar, pusslandet med ledtrådar och akademisk tuppfäktning.
 
In The Stranger’s Child he weaves a number of stories around the idea of Brooke and his posthumous fortunes, detailing the lives caught up in the reputational arc of a Brooke-like poet called Cecil Valance between 1913 and 2008. Both world wars, fought offstage, have effects that ramify throughout the novel, as do changing attitudes to gay people and to biographical disclosure. Hollinghurst writes with amused tenderness about Rupert Trunk-type phenomena, investing them with dignity and pathos, but he also puts both hands on opportunities for irony, arch humour and, intermittently, an un-Jamesian directness.
 
In many ways, The Stranger's Child has the same qualities as his previous novels. It is elegant, seductive and extremely enjoyable to read, and peppered with astute, apparently casual noticings. (Of a man stumbling around in a shed at a party: "He was drunk, it was one of the hilarious uncorrectable disasters of being drunk." Of a grand literary wife: "A hard, good-looking face, thoroughly made up, and a manner he knew at once, from its tight smiles and frowns, of getting people to do things.") It treads much of the same ground as its predecessors: class and money, buried histories of gay life in this country, the dreary provinces and the exciting metropolis, with forays into architecture and Victoriana. As ever, Hollinghurst's set-piece parties are stunning.
added by peterbrown | editThe Guardian, Theo Tait (Jun 18, 2011)
 
Hollinghurst’s fine new book, “The Stranger’s Child” — the closest thing he has written to an old-fashioned chronicle novel — contains a whole hidden literary curriculum, out of which he has fashioned something fresh and vital. Underpinned with a range of styles that run from Iris Murdoch to William Trevor and back to Forster, the novel is divided into five parts that play out over five different decades.
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alan Hollinghurstprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Granato, GiovannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heuvelmans, TonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Krol, EdzardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lacruz, JavierTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pawlikowska-Gannon, HannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Päkkilä, MarkkuTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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She'd been lying in the hammock reading poetry for over an hour.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307272761, Hardcover)

From the Man Booker Prize–winning author of The Line of Beauty: a magnificent, century-spanning saga about a love triangle that spawns a myth, and a family mystery, across generations.

In the late summer of 1913, George Sawle brings his Cambridge schoolmate—a handsome, aristocratic young poet named Cecil Valance—to his family’s modest home outside London for the weekend. George is enthralled by Cecil, and soon his sixteen-year-old sister, Daphne, is equally besotted by him and the stories he tells about Corley Court, the country estate he is heir to. But what Cecil writes in Daphne’s autograph album will change their and their families’ lives forever: a poem that, after Cecil is killed in the Great War and his reputation burnished, will become a touchstone for a generation, a work recited by every schoolchild in England. Over time, a tragic love story is spun, even as other secrets lie buried—until, decades later, an ambitious biographer threatens to unearth them.

Rich with Hollinghurst’s signature gifts—haunting sensuality, delicious wit and exquisite lyricism—The Stranger’s Child is a tour de force: a masterly novel about the lingering power of desire, how the heart creates its own history, and how legends are made.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:03 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

In the late summer of 1913, George Sawle brings his Cambridge schoolmate--a handsome, aristocratic young poet named Cecil Valance--to his family's modest home outside London for the weekend. George is enthralled by Cecil, and soon his sixteen-year-old sister, Daphne, is equally besotted by him and the stories he tells about Corley Court, the country estate he is heir to. But what Cecil writes in Daphne's autograph album will change their and their families' lives forever: a poem that, after Cecil is killed in the Great War and his reputation burnished, will become a touchstone for a generation, a work recited by every schoolchild in England. Over time, a tragic love story is spun, even as other secrets lie buried--until, decades later, an ambitious biographer threatens to unearth them.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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