Best Alan Hollinghurst books

The Sparsholt Affair

Alan Hollinghurst

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From the internationally acclaimed winner of the Man Booker Prize, a masterly new novel that spans seven transformative decades in England--from the 1940s to the present--as it plumbs the richly complex relationships of a remarkable family.

In 1940, David Sparsholt arrives at Oxford to study engineering, though his sights are set on joining the Royal Air Force. Handsome, athletic, charismatic, he is unaware of his effect on others--especially on Evert Dax, the lonely son of a celebrated novelist who is destined to become a writer himself. With the world at war, and the Blitz raging in London, Oxford nevertheless exists at a strange remove: a place of fleeting beauty--and secret liaisons. A friendship develops between these two young men that will have unexpected consequences as the novel unfolds.
     Alan Hollinghurst's new novel explores the legacy of David Sparsholt across three generations, on friends and family alike; we experience through its characters changes in taste, morality, and private life in a sequence of vividly rendered episodes: a Sparsholt holiday in Cornwall; eccentric social gatherings at the Dax family home; the adventures of David's son Johnny, a painter in 1970s London; the push and pull in a group of friends brought together by art, literature, and love. And evoking the increasing openness of gay life, The Sparsholt Affair becomes a meditation on human transience, even as it poignantly expresses the longing for permanence and continuity. Witty, tender, epic in scope yet rich in observation, this is a dazzling novel of fathers and sons; of family and home by a writer hailed by The Wall Street Journal as "one of the best novelists at work today."

The Line of Beauty: A Novel

Alan Hollinghurst

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"One can't get enough of Hollinghurst's sentences...If you value style, wit, and social satire in your reading, don't miss this elegant and passionate novel."-Washington Post
Winner of 2004's Man Booker Prize for fiction and one of the most talked about books of the year, The Line of Beauty is a sweeping novel about class, sex, and money that brings Thatcher's London alive. Nick Guest has moved in with the Feddens, a family whose patriarch is a conservative member of parliament. An innocent in matters of politics and money, Nick becomes caught up in the Feddens' world of parties and excess, as well as in his own private pursuit of beauty. Framed by the two general elections that returned Margaret Thatcher to power, The Line of Beauty unfurls through four extraordinary years of change and tragedy.
A New York Times Bestseller (Extended) • A LA Times Bestseller List • A Book Sense National Bestseller • A Northern California Bestseller • A Sunday Times Bestseller List • A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
And chosen as one of the best books of 2004 by: Entertainment Weekly The Washington Post The San Francisco Chronicle The Seattle Times Newsday • Salon.com • The Boston Globe The New York Sun The Miami Herald The Dallas Morning News San Jose Mercury News Publishers Weekly
"A magnificent comedy of manners. Hollinghurst's alertness to the tiniest social and tonal shifts never slackens, and positively luxuriates in a number of unimprovably droll set pieces...[an] outstanding novel."-New York Times Book Review
"Hollinghurst has placed his gay protagonist within a larger social context, and the result is his most tender and powerful novel to date, a sprawling and haunting elegy to the 1980s. A"-Entertainment Weekly
"Mr. Hollinghurst's great gift as a novelist is for social satire as sharp and tra

The Swimming-Pool Library

Alan Hollinghurst

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A literary sensation and bestseller both in England and America, The Swimming-Pool Library is an enthralling, darkly erotic novel of homosexuality before the scourge of AIDS; an elegy, possessed of chilling clarity, for ways of life that can no longer be lived with impunity. "Impeccably composed and meticulously particular in its observation of everything" (Harpers & Queen), it focuses on the friendship of two men: William Beckwith, a young gay aristocrat who leads a life of privilege and promiscuity, and the elderly Lord Nantwich, an old Africa hand, searching for someone to write his biography and inherit his traditions.

The Stranger's Child (Vintage International)

Alan Hollinghurst

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From the Man Booker Prize-winning author of The Line of Beauty: a magnificent, century-spanning saga about a love triangle that spawns a myth, and a family mystery, across generations.
 
In the summer of 1913, George Sawle brings his Cambridge schoolmate—a handsome, aristocratic young poet named Cecil Valance—to his family’s home outside London. George is enthralled by Cecil, and soon his sister, Daphne, is equally besotted by him. That weekend, Cecil writes a poem that, after he is killed in the Great War and his reputation burnished, will become a touchstone for a generation, a work recited by every schoolchild in England. Over time, a tragic love story is spun, even as other secrets lie buried—until, decades later, an ambitious biographer threatens to unearth them.
 

The Folding Star: A Novel

Alan Hollinghurst

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Edward Manners - thirty-three, disaffected, in search of a new life - has come to an ancient Flemish city to teach English. Almost at once he falls in love with one of his pupils, the seventeen-year-old Luc Altidore, recently expelled from school for some mysterious offense. Condemned to a mounting but incommunicable obsession with the boy, Edward becomes involved in affairs with two other men: one a heartless but seductive fraud, the other a young drifter with a deeply possessive streak.
Then Edward is introduced to the world of the enigmatic and reclusive Symbolist painter Edgard Orst. Gradually he is drawn toward an understanding of the artist's own obsession with a famous actress, drowned off Ostend at the turn of the century, and of the ambiguous circumstances of Orst's own death under Nazi occupation.
The events of The Folding Star are played out amid the silent streets and canals of a city that seems locked in the past, and across the northern landscape of out-of-season resorts and abandoned houses that lies beyond. But in the central panel of the novel's triptych Edward returns home for a funeral and is caught up in memories of his own late adolescence and his first love affair: an English pastoral already threatened by the experience of betrayal and loss.

The Spell

Alan Hollinghurst

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Here are the interlocking affairs of four men: Robin Woodfield, an architect in his late forties trying to build an idyllic life in Dorset with his young lover, Justin, a would-be actor increasingly disenchanted with the countryside; Robin's attractive and dangerously volatile twenty-two-year-old son Danny; and Justin's former boyfriend Alex, whose life is unexpectedly transformed by a night of house music and a tab of ecstasy.As each falls under the spell of romance or drugs, country living or rough trade, a richly ironic picture emerges of the illusions of love, and of the clashing imperatives of modern gay life: the hunger for contact and the fear of commitment, the need for permanence and the continual disruptions of sex. Ultimately, The Spell details the restlessness of every human heart.

The Sparsholt Affair

Alan Hollinghurst

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From the internationally acclaimed winner of the Man Booker Prize, a sweeping new novel that explores richly complex relationships between fathers and sons as it spans seven transformative decades in England, from the 1940s through the present.

David Sparsholt is a man who commands attention. As a student at Oxford during the early days of World War II, he's handsome, powerful and alluring to all who meet him--both women and men. His two closest friends, Evert and Freddie, are aspiring artists who are quickly drawn into Sparsholt's magnetic field even as the mores of the day complicate their ambitions--aesthetic, romantic and otherwise.
     Twenty years later, all three men find themselves in unexpected positions--sometimes rewarded, but sometimes thwarted--vis-à-vis love and career; money and stature. David Sparsholt is now married with a wife and son, having claimed fame as a fighter pilot in the war, but also infamy after a scandalous affair rocked his entire family--especially his teenage son, Johnny. It's the 1960s, and upheavals of all sorts are rampant in England and around the world, including as we follow Johnny's struggles to untangle his own private web of identity, art and sexuality. Together, these men's trials and triumphs present a complicated portrait of masculinity and artistic worth in England's upper echelons, where one's name carries the legacy, but also the telling scars, of the generations before him.
     Engaging, atmospheric, told in lush and gorgeous prose, The Sparsholt Affair is a brilliant novel about sensuality and scruples set against a backdrop of radical social change, from a writer whose work is as provocative as it is precisely rendered.

The Line of Beauty

Alan Hollinghurst

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A huge critical success on first publication in 2004, the novel went on to win that year's Man Booker Prize. It was adapted for television and broadcast on BBC2 in 2006. It is the summer of 1983, and young Nick Guest, an innocent in the matters of politics and money, has moved into an attic room in the Notting Hill home of the Feddens: Gerald, an ambitious new Tory MP, his wealthy wife Rachel, and their children Toby and Catherine. As the boom years of the mid-80s unfold, Nick becomes caught up in the Feddens' world, while pursuing his own private obsession, with beauty - a prize as compelling to him as power and riches are to his friends. In 2012 Picador celebrated its 40th anniversary. During that time we have published many prize-winning and bestselling authors including Bret Easton Ellis and Cormac McCarthy, Alice Sebold and Helen Fielding, Graham Swift and Alan Hollinghurst. Years later, Picador continue to bring readers the very best contemporary fiction, non-fiction and poetry from across the globe. Discover more at picador.com/40

Nemo's Almanac: A Quiz for Book Lovers

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You might recognise: 'It was a bright day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.' But what about: 'Time, like an ever-rolling stream' Or even: 'I am soft sift / In an hour-glass-at the wall / Fast, but mined with a motion, a drift, / And it crowds and it combs to the fall.' Can you match each to their author? What about their book or poem? Welcome to Nemo's Almanac, the ultimate quiz for bibliophiles. Wonderful, maddening, enlightening, Nemo's Almanac has been the well-guarded secret of the literary world for over one hundred years, beloved by authors and booksellers alike. Now in book form for the first time, with an account of its quirky history from Alan Hollinghurst, you can experience its fiendishly addictive qualities for yourself. With tantalising quotes on themes from breakfast to bonfires, winter to sunshine, and including authors from Aldous Huxley to Zadie Smith, each chapter will put your knowledge and literary instinct to the test as you search for the origins to each quote. And if that tip-of-your-tongue feeling doesn't transform into the names of authors and works, you can always check the back of the book for answers that will send you on fresh journeys of literary discovery. So curl up by a fire with your wits about you, stuff the book in your pocket for a trip to the library, or quiz the whole family after dinner. Answers: George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four; Isaac Watts, 'O God, Our Help'; Gerard Manley Hopkins, 'The Wreck of the Deutschland'

Offshore: A Novel

Penelope Fitzgerald

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Winner of the Booker Prize

On the Battersea Reach of the Thames, a mixed bag of the slightly disreputable, the temporarily lost, and the patently eccentric live on houseboats, rising and falling with the great river’s tides. Belonging to neither land nor sea, they cling to one another in a motley yet kindly society. There is Maurice, by occupation a male prostitute, by happenstance a receiver of stolen goods. And Richard, a buttoned-up ex-navy man whose boat dominates the Reach. Then there is Nenna, a faithful but abandoned wife, the diffident mother of two young girls running wild on the waterfront streets.

It is Nenna’s domestic predicament that, as it deepens, draws the relations among this scrubby community together into ever more complex and comic patterns. The result is one of Fitzgerald’s greatest triumphs, a novel the Booker judges deemed “flawless.”

“A marvelous achievement: strong, supple, humane, ripe, generous, and graceful.” —Sunday Times