Ian Mapp's Reviews > The Line of Beauty

The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
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's review
Oct 05, 09

liked it
Read in September, 2009

A social satire set in the eighties that takes in class, homosexuality and the morals of the time.

Nick Guest is a working class guest at a tory mps home, through his friendship with there kids. He is also as camp as a row of tents. If you are likely to be offput by details of homosexual extreme behaviour, i would steer clear of this. It starts with him having an affair with a young black fella and moves on to a doomed affair with a married millionaire called Wani.

The MPs family is well drawn. he is married into aristocracy and they have two children, the unhinged catherine who eventually cause the drama by telling the family secrets to a tabloid and Toby, who of course, Nick fancies.

The story moves along at a slow pace. There are comedic touches (nick just talks in platitudes to his higher social class friends) a ton of drugs, AIDs and some nice set pieces, including Nick dancing with the PM (maggie) who looms large over the book, as she indeed did in the 80s.

Some very fine set peices - i really enjoyed the MPs contribtion at the village fete but ultimately, the book was not funny enough to be a comedy, not clear enough to be a satire and not thrilling enough to be a thriller. It was OK, but not what I would call a prizewinner.

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