Jan 29, 12
I loved the set up for this book: a look back at a gay (?) poet's affair from different time periods. But the first section dealing with the poet was the only one that felt immediate and true. The other sections were a little bloodless. Maybe because the poet had the strongest personality in the novel; maybe because some of the other characters were (intentionally) insipid; maybe because the point of the rest of the rest of the novel is to examine how later time periods view the original scenes. In any case, the rest sort of paled in comparison to the vivid first section. I still enjoyed it, but felt like there wasn't enough of a pay off given the length--the part that sticks with me was the first couple hundred pages.
The New Yorker review did a very funny send up of the writing in the first part of the novel--describing it as Jamesian to the extreme. It was, but the New Yorker acknowledged - and I agree - that Hollinghurst is one of the truly fine contemporary writers. His sentences are evocative without being overly polished (we're all looking at you McEwan), and he does a fantastic job of pulling out various character's emotions in the same scene. In a couple of sections, he conveys various states of drunkenness at the same party in several scenes to excellent effect.
I'd recommend this, but liked Line of Beauty better, so if someone is looking to for a place to start with his writing, go there.
NOTE: if you're into Downtown Abby, Dan Stevens who plays Matthew Crawley, was the lead in the BBC's version of Line of Beauty.