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The Stranger's Child


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Alan Hollinghurst is the author of four previous novels, The Swimming-Pool Library, The Folding Star, The Spell and The Line of Beauty. He has received the Somerset Maugham Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction and the 2004 Man Booker Prize. He lives in London.

About the Author

Alan Hollinghurst is the author of five novels, The Swimming-Pool Library, The Folding Star, The Spell, The Line of Beauty and The Stranger's Child. He has received the Somerset Maugham Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction and the 2004 Man Booker Prize. He lives in London.


This story's core takes place on the eve of World War I. George Sawle invites his friend Cecil Valance to visit for the weekend. Valance is heir to the estate of Corley Court and a budding poet. Before his visit is over, Cecil pens a poem in the autograph book of George's sister. As the story progresses, the reader finds that Cecil died during the war and the poem has become famous. George's sister has married Cecil's brother and is now Lady Valance. Owing to three more time jumps, the details surrounding the poem become both more and less clear. VERDICT Man Booker Prize winner Hollinghurst (The Line of Beauty) crafts a multidimensional story that captures the essence and selectivity of love, fame, human memory, and history. An excellent reading is given by James Daniel Wilson. ["This generously paced, thoroughly satisfying novel will gladden the hearts of Anglophile readers," read the review of the New York Times best-selling Knopf hc, LJ 9/1/11.-Ed.]-Joanna Burkhardt, Univ. of Rhode Island Libs., Providence (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Hollinghurst, author of the Man Booker Prize-winning The Line of Beauty, published seven years ago, stakes his claim for Most Puckishly Bemused English Novelist with this rambunctious stepchild to the mannered satires of Henry Green, E.M. Forster, and especially Evelyn Waugh. Fancy young George Sawle returns from Cambridge in 1913 to his family estate of Two Acres in the company of the dashing poet Cecil Valance, secretly his lover. Cecil enjoys success and popularity wherever he goes, and George's precocious sister, Daphne, falls under his spell. To her he gives a poem about Two Acres, a work whose reputation will outlive Cecil, for he is fated to perish in WWI. Hollinghurst then jumps ahead to Daphne's marriage to Cecil's brother Dudley and commences the series of generation-spanning indiscretions and revisionist biographies that complicate Cecil's legacy: he is variously a rebel, a tedious war poet, and, possibly, the father of Daphne's daughter. Time plays havoc with fashions, relationships, and sexual orientation; the joke is on the legions of memoirists, professors, and literary treasure hunters whose entanglements with eyewitnesses produce something too fickle and impermanent to be called legend. Hollinghurst's novel, meanwhile, could hardly be called overserious, but nearly 100 years of bedroom comedy is a lot to keep up with, and the author struggles at times to maintain endless amusement over the course of the five installments that make up this book. But convolution is part of the point. A sweet tweaking of English literature's foppish little cheeks by a distinctly 21st-century hand. Longlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

"One of the best, if not the best, works of literary fiction of 2011." "--Toronto Star""Part social history, part social comedy and wholly absorbing, "The Stranger's Child" does everything a novel should do and makes it look easy.""--The Washington Post""The most originally and brilliantly structured novel I've read in a long time." --Julian Barnes, " The Guardian""Fresh and vital...wonderfully precise...steadily satisfying."""--"The New York Times Book Review"

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