Alan Hollinghurst in top form
By Ralph McAllister
Many readers, myself included, believe that he is England’s best living author.
Since he plunged into the literary scene with The Swimming Pool Library he has crafted four other novels including The Line of Beauty which was not only filmed but won the Booker.
To label his novels as unashamedly gay would be accurate, but also limiting.
His are stories which delve into the psyches of his complex men and women.
Humour and empathy
He writes with humour and empathy, concentrating somewhat on that Brideshead Revisited lot so popular with Evelyn Waugh and his like.
But Hollinghurst goes much further than Waugh with mysterious relationships and affairs, affairs and affairs.
There are three periods covered in The Sparsholt Affair starting on the rooftops of Oxford in 1940 as the students are on fire duty watching for German aircraft.
But distractions prevail when more time is spent peering into other bedrooms and exploring the bodies of your partner for the night.
Sparsholt makes you work!
Time shifts to a 1960’s holiday and there the detective work for the reader begins.
Hollinghurst refuses to tell us what has happened to his protagonists as time went by. He makes us do the work.
Similarly when we move to the final part set in London in 2012 we have to sort out the gaps again.
One is reminded of Antony Powell’s great Dance to the Music of Time and not just because of the title.
Hollinghurst has his multitude of characters dancing for us and we are happy to join in the 600 page dance.
This Affair will surely win next year’s Booker?
My other BOOK OF THE YEAR?
My thoughts are with you for the festive season and lots of reading!