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The Spell


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'A sparkling celebration of sexual intrigue... stylish, original, bizarrely beautiful' Francis Wyndham, Sunday Telegraph, Books of the Year

About the Author

Alan Hollinghurst was born in 1954. He is the author of one of the most highly praised first novels to appear in the 1980s, The Swimming-Pool Library, and was selected as one of the Best of Young British Novelists 1993. His second novel, The Folding Star, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the 1994 Booker Prize. His novel The Line of Beauty won the Booker Prize in 2004.


Set mostly in the English countryside, Hollinghursts third novel dices the complicated, jumbled lives of his four main gay characters: father and son and their new partners (who are ex-lovers). A wry novel of manners in the fashion of Jane Austens work, this novel through its omniscient point of view, exposes these stressed Londoners as they protect the ones they love (presumably each other, but certainly themselves) with small lies and little omissions. Their mixed-up relationships and compromised interests find perfect expression in the tangled garden they have no time to tend. Hollinghurst has a deft authorial hand (a game of Scrabble turns into a scene of internal fulmination and an outward display of social power). This novel firmly establishes the author after his first works: The Swimming Pool Library (LJ 9/1/88) and The Folding Star (LJ 10/1/94). Recommended for public and academic libraries and for specialized collections of gay literature.Roger W. Durbin, Univ. of Akron, OH

"The Spell contains the most delicately sensuous portrait-painting...brilliant imagery...and hilarious cross-purpose jokes... Sentence by sentence the novel weaves its magic" Independent "A masterpiece of sustained literary titillation" The Times "Love, lust and loss among a group of middle-class gay Englishmen... Young and old, the town and the country, the wild and respectable: Holinghurst explores each of these uneasy conflicts with wit, generosity and sharply observed comedy" Mail on Sunday "A bewitchingly beautiful tale... confirms his pre-eminence among the prose writers of his generation" Daily Telegraph "Comic fantasy is grounded in a wealth of sharp observation and psychological insight. Hollinghurst has lost none of his authority" Evening Standard

Confirming his status as the preeminent new voice chronicling the worldly, debauched erotics of linguistically limber gay British men, Hollinghurst (The Swimming-Pool Library; The Folding Star, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize) explores London's drug-addled discos and Dorset's country charms. This colorful and often breathtakingly eloquent novel follows the lives of four gay men in the late '90s. After his longtime lover dies from AIDS, Robin Woodfield, "big and fit and handsomely unshaven"Äand at 46 still scoring with much younger menÄsets up house with the utterly selfish and duplicitous (though of course fetching) 35-year-old Justin. The two had been meeting for regular and "fierce speechless sex" in a public loo during the degeneration of Justin's relationship with the decent, tender and very handsome Alex. But Alex isn't exactly dumped. He spends a weekend at the Dorset cottage with the lovebirds, and succumbs to the sexual charm of another Woodfield, Robin's randy gay son, Danny. Alcohol, drugs and a high-camp combination of butch bravado and queenly preening keep the social wheels lubricated. A witty and ingenious writer, Hollinghurst weaves prose that shifts deftly from steamy sex to genteel country living, from edgy cocaine-fed conversations to delicately sensuous observations about the "tussocky hillside" or "crowded dim moons of cow-parsley." He also conveys a significant empathy for the perennial struggle of urban gay men to find true love without forfeiting their sexual autonomy. The author excels at pithy character portraits, and his keen observations of human nature (gay and otherwise) give a depth and realism even to the bit players in this marvelous tale. Agent, Aitken & Stone. BOMC selection; author tour. (Apr.)

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