The Line of Beauty

The Line of BeautyThe Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The final tragic parts of the book were the most thrilling to me – when the various secrets and hypocrisies that have built up over the first two languid sections, wrapped up in the twin seductions of love and money, burst out into the open. The protagonist – from an undistinguished middle class background, and gay – ingratiates himself with the well-to-do family of an ambitious Conservative politician, as a lodger and then as a friend. And while Nick Guest (ominous name) is supremely capable of averting the inherent tensions of such an arrangement, eventually it blows up in everyone's faces. The MP, charismatic but vain, is undone by his own sexual and financial profligacy, which contrasts with Nick's own prudent behaviour. Nevertheless, the underlying homophobia of the times (amplified by the press) asserts itself, and Nick finds that his surrogate family will not stand up for him in a time of crisis. Hollinghurst's talents lie in the delicate depiction of the interactions between people, and the evasions and ironies used to sustain relationships, up until the pressures of the outside world break them apart. He's a great writer, and this is a great book.

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