Alex's Reviews > The Line of Beauty

The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
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Mar 24, 09

Read in March, 2009

I enjoyed this enormously. Hollinghurst is a great stylist and his debt to Henry James, suggested throughout (the protagonist is writing a thesis on 'The Master'), is always evident. Best of all is his subtle but uncompromising social satire: few of the characteres are particularly sympathetic but all are energetically realised and very believable. There are some terrific set-pieces: an aristocratic twenty-first birthday, awkward introductions of gay lovers to parents who don't know (or won't admit)their son's sexuality, a London MP's unease on visiting his rural constituency and on having to take part in welly-throwing. 'The Line Of Beauty' paints a compelling picture of privileged life in 80s England -- but the privilege is precarious. Considering AIDS, the boom in cocaine use, and parlimentary scandal, this is nonetheless much more than mere social documentation. At times I felt the symbolism suggested by the title became a bit strained and occasionally I had the sense that Hollinghurst was overindulging in his ornate style. These are minor quibbles, however, about a book I was often reluctant to put down.
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