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The Stranger's Child (Vintage International) Paperback – September 4, 2012


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The Stranger's Child (Vintage International) + The Line of Beauty: A Novel + The Swimming-Pool Library
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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage International
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307474346
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307474346
  • ASIN: 0307474348
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (152 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #101,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Remarkable. . . . Daring. . . . Fresh and vital.”
—Thomas Mallon, The New York Times Book Review
 
“Hollinghurst is a master storyteller. . . . For the daring of its setting out, and for the consistent flash and fire of the writing, The Stranger’s Child is to be cherished.”
—John Banville, The New Republic
 
“At once classically literary and delightfully, subversively modern. . . . It’s a thrilling, enchanting work of art.”
San Francisco Chronicle
 
“Brilliant. . . . Hollinghurst [has] a truly Jamesian fineness of perception. . . . [He is] one of the best novelists at work today.”
The Wall Street Journal

“A sly and ravishing masterpiece.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer
 
“Magnificent. . . . Hollinghurst explores how a living, breathing existence can become a biographical subject riddled with omissions and distortions. . . . His immersion in each period is fluid and free of false notes, collectively fusing into a single symphonic epic. . . . A beautifully written, brilliantly observed and masterfully orchestrated novel.”
The Seattle Times
 
“Hollinghurst writes with the relaxed elegance and unobtrusive charm of a Cary Grant. Part social history, part social comedy and wholly absorbing, The Stranger’s Child does everything a novel should do and makes it look easy.”
The Washington Post
 
“Vibrant. . . . Sparkling. . . . Witty and ultimately very moving. . . . There are echoes of E. M. Forster, Evelyn Waugh, Elizabeth Bowen and others, but The Stranger’s Child is a Great English Novel in its own right, and a tantalizing read.”
Newsday
 
“Masterful. . . . Psychologically penetrating. . . . Hollinghurst is a superior novelist of manners, and the brilliance of The Stranger’s Child is in how it reveals the ways bad blood and secrets muck with history.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
 
“Beautifully written, ambitious in its scope and structure, confident in its execution, The Stranger’s Child is a masterclass in the art of the novel.”
The Times Literary Supplement
 
“Hollinghurst writes like Henry James, but without the obfuscation; his gorgeous sentences home in on the delicate nuances of human relationships but don’t sacrifice the larger social canvas along the way.”
Chicago Tribune
 
“Erudite, stylish, very amusing. . . . A novelist with a historian’s engrossment in the past and a critic’s sensitivity to taste and judgment, Hollinghurst is an aficionado of the English literary heritage [and] in The Stranger’s Child, that bookish fascination envelops every aspect of the novel.”
Bookforum
 
“Hollinghurst imaginatively insists that our literary tradition would be unrecognizably depleted without the submerged current of homosexuality. . . . The Stranger’s Child itself is the culmination of not only Hollinghurst’s ambition but that secret literary tradition to which it is addressed.”  
—Geoff Dyer, New York Magazine
 
“Charming. . . . Perfect. . . . Hollinghurst writes so carefully and subversively, often with one eyebrow raised in sardonic amusement as he satirizes the excesses of his mostly high-born protagonists.”
Financial Times

About the Author

Alan Hollinghurst is the author of the novels The Swimming-Pool Library, The Folding Star, The Spell and The Line of Beauty, which won the Man Booker Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has received the Somerset Maugham Award, the E. M. Forster Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction. He lives in London.


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Customer Reviews

Hollinghurst has such an elegant writing style.
David G. Hallman
I'm sorry to say it was so bad I put the book down in the middle of Part 3 because I was just too bored to go on.
tme
Anyway, after 300 pages, I hit the wall, and decided that this was not worth my time to finish.
Jeffrey D. Kenyon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 108 people found the following review helpful By Kiwireads on August 2, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
This beautifully written novel is a family saga, but so much more. It starts in 1913 with 16 year old Daphne Sawle lying in a hammock excitedly waiting for her brother George and his friend Cecil to come home for a long weekend. Home is "Two Acres" near London, where Daphne lives with her widowed mother Freda, her older brother Hubert, and George (when he's not at Cambridge). The book spans almost a century and we get to track the family members and their relations to one another in detail. There is also lots in here about how attitudes to World War 1 have changed, the Bloomsbury group and the war poets, how family myths get built up, and most of all, and not surprisingly because it's Alan Hollinghurst, how being gay in England has changed.

The Sawles are comfortably off, but not rich. They're acutely aware that Cecil comes from a much posher family, the Valances, and spend a fair bit of the weekend worrying about diong things right. For example, Jonah, one of their general house servants, is assigned to be Cecil's valet for the weekend, and has no clue what to do but pretends he does. George is infatuated with Cecil, whose strong personality comes through the whole novel. George worries about his mother and sister letting slip just how much detail he's told them about Cecil and his family. Lots happens during the weekend. (I'm trying to avoid spoilers!) It felt like a rewritten version of Brideshead Revisited near the start, only backwards - the rich boy comes into the poorer family home.

There are 5 or 6 parts to the book, and 15-20 years between parts. Figuring out what was going on at the start of every new part was great fun.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Alan Dorfman VINE VOICE on October 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I have a mixed history with Alan Hollinghurst's previous novels. His first book, "The Swimming Pool Library," is quite simply my favorite novel. At the other end of the spectrum, his most recent book, "The Line Of Beauty," I found to be a crushing disappointment. I apparently was in the minority opinion on that inasmuch as the novel won the Man Booker Award. The other novels fall somewhere in between.

"The Stranger's Child" is an example of a brilliant writer working at the top of his form, a multi-generational saga beginning before the first World War and ending in the late 1960s. I say "ending" advisedly inasmuch as part of the success of the novel is that the reader is left with the understanding that the story specifically, and life in general goes on beyond the final page.

A writer of stunningly descriptive prose, Mr. Hollinghurst has created a nearly overabundance of three-dimensional characters, the importance to the narrative of which is not always necessarily apparent. Real people brilliantly brought to life in both broad strokes and the tiniest details. All in service of a semi-linear story, the plot of which is less important than the concepts the writer wants to convey.

If you want a description of the plot you can look elsewhere in this listing. Among other things, "The Stranger's Child" is about the physical and emotional evolution of England as a country and as a people from the Victorian age to the pre-AIDS present. It is about changing nature of families and the secrets they contain. It is about emergence of homosexuality from the silent, glass closet into the light of a more enlightened age where same-sex love is now allowed to speak its name.

Ultimately "The Stranger's Child" is about memoir, biography and, by extension, reality itself.
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49 of 58 people found the following review helpful By tme on December 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I really wanted to love this book, and part 1 delivered. It was mysterious, unpredictable, beautifully written. But parts 2 and 3 felt like another writer took over and from then the book failed to fly and sing -- it was just a tough slog through the mud. I'm sorry to say it was so bad I put the book down in the middle of Part 3 because I was just too bored to go on. I didn't care about any of the characters by that point. The problem is, the author kills off or disappears the most interesting characters in the book, and he has an annoying habit of stopping the story just when relationships are STARTING to get interesting. And never picks up where he leaves off. There are too many other good books to read, I just called it a day on this one, and to me it's better to just stop at Part 1 and consider it a great little novella.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Myers VINE VOICE on January 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
The adjective that most comes to mind after finishing this book is "fluffy". What the book brought most to mind was the works of Angus Wilson, so I wasn't exactly taken aback when the main character in the postwar (WWII-The book covers a century.) section was voraciously reading the works of Wilson. Both Wilson's and Hollinghurst's prose style turns on slight nuances of conversation for their appeal. I'm very much surprised to find so many American reviewers fancying the book, as these nuances will be lost on even the majority of modern U.K. readers.

Hollinghurst doesn't really tackle much of anything in this novel. Rather, he linguistically glides through the century of English history by deftly recording the turns of phrase connoting class differences and sexual preference through the characters in the different eras. That's it.

Yes, yes, yes he touches upon homosexuality and how it has changed over the century, on the Proustian subjectivity of memory, on changing literary tastes etc. But, again, he only gently brushes his quill feathers against such matters. His main concerns are manners - mannerisms actually - custom and class as conveyed through language.

At the beginning of the novel, as our eponymous protagonist/poet, Cecil Valence, is conversing with Daphne, we have the following exchange about their fathers:

"You mean he drank whiskey in the bathroom?"

"Yes, while he was telling me a story. We had a nanny of course. Frankly, I think we had more money then, than we have now."

Cecil gave her the fleeting wink of merely abstract sympathy that she'd noticed already when it came to money or servants. "I can't imagine my father doing that," he said.
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