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The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst
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's review
Feb 29, 12

Read from February 14 to 29, 2012

While I was quick to deliver a three-star rating to this novel, I could consider dropping another star. Perhaps my biggest issue with this novel is that I did enjoy it...when Forster wrote it nearly a century ago in "Maurice" and then when Waugh wrote it in "Brideshead". I've always been hesitant of contemporary literature for this exact reason: it's too derivative. Much of the turn-of-the-century English literature aesthetic over saturates this novel, and while I do very much enjoy that setting, Hollinghurst's creativity was lacking.

My other issue with this novel stems from Hollinghurst's language. There are moments when he employs unparalleled prose, executed beautifully, but his linguistic acrobatics go unchecked for much of the novel to the point of over saturating the text and undermining what brilliant moments he does have. This also becomes problematic for what turns out to be a very ambitious novel.

Hollinghurst is clearly dealing with the development of queer identity, a theme that can be overwhelming to the point of unconquerable. Added to that, Hollinghurst plumbs the themes of memory, class struggle, and not one, but two wars. S I applaud Hollinghurst in his attempt to meld these themes, but they become buried under the avalanche of pretentious, inane dialogue passing between characters. Much of the conversation that passes between characters remains superfluous, but I found myself becoming exhausted attempting to discern if if a passing remark held something deeper or, as was most cases, just a superficial glib remark.

Admittedly, I wasn't entirely certain what I wanted from this novel, but I think Hollinhurst fell just a hair short.

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Reading Progress

02/14/2012 page 20
4.0% "Reminds me a bit of "Maurice" and "Brideshead Revisited" so far."
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