Before the event begins, as caterers fuss and tension mounts in the Notting Hill home of Tory MP Gerald Fedden where Nick is a lodger, he slips out "for a walk". It is a November evening and, filtered through Nick's consciousness, we get fragments of circumstantial observation: wet leaves on the pavement, the sound of fireworks, duffel-coated children hurrying home. The paragraph ends. At the beginning of the next he is walking home, "[f]rowning again, at having done something so vulgar and unsafe". In the gap between paragraphs, Nick has had sex. The ellipsis — the deliberate omission of the encounter — is both casual like the encounter and telling.
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Qty :. From Alan Hollinghurst, the acclaimed author of The Sparsholt Affair, The Line of Beauty is a sweeping novel about class, sex, and money during four extraordinary years of change and tragedy. In the summer of , twenty-year-old Nick Guest moves into an attic room in the Notting Hill home of the Feddens: conservative Member of Parliament Gerald, his wealthy wife Rachel, and their two children, Toby-whom Nick had idolized at Oxford-and Catherine, who is highly critical of her family's assumptions and ambitions.
As the boom years of the eighties unfold, Nick, an innocent in the world of politics and money, finds his life altered by the rising fortunes of this glamorous family. His two vividly contrasting love affairs, one with a young black clerk and one with a Lebanese millionaire, dramatize the dangers and rewards of his own private pursuit of beauty, a pursuit as compelling to Nick as the desire for power and riches among his friends.
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'The Line of Beauty': The Last Good Summer
A few pages into Alan Hollinghurst's novel, something remarkable happens. The gay hero, Nick Guest, is on his way to a blind date but is waylaid by his land-lady's daughter, a highly strung neurotic with a history of self-harm. Smartly assuming control of the situation, Nick relieves her of the contents of the cutlery drawer, and chivalrously holds her hand until she calms down. This touching scene is unlikely to have occurred in one of Hollinghurst's previous books: first because there were few women in them; and second because nothing would be allowed to get in the way of a passage of graphic gay sex. Hollinghurst's debut novel, The Swimming Pool Library , was lauded for its startling conflation of high literary style and low-rent sex, and presented an eye-opening trawl through the London gay scene, from private clubs to public toilets, in the laconic tone of a latter-day Henry James. The Line of Beauty is not a sequel as such, but picks up where the earlier narrative broke off, in August "the last summer of its kind there was ever to be". Aids was never even alluded to in the earlier novel; here it ominously clouds the narrative.
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AS a novelist, Alan Hollinghurst has set himself an intimidating standard. There haven't been many English debuts more exquisitely executed or scorchingly candid than "The Swimming-Pool Library" , nor follow-ups that could outdazzle it as brilliantly as did "The Folding Star" Thereafter "The Spell" conjured a lighter tone, though still sprung with the enchantments of Hollinghurst's sly, feline wit. To say, then, that his latest novel, the Booker Prize-winning "Line of Beauty," is also his finest should give some idea of its accomplishment, not just in the breadth of its ambition but in its felicities of observation and expression. Nicholas Guest, intellectual, gay and about to turn 21, has been invited to lodge in the seigneurial West London mansion of Gerald Fedden, M. As the boom years of the 80's unfurl, Nick becomes ever more deeply entwined with the romance of the Feddens and their luminous world of money and privilege, while through a black civil servant, Leo, he avidly discovers the pleasures of metropolitan gay life.