I'VE read most of Alan Hollinghurst's novels; I consider him the Jane Austin of the 21st century. Here are two of my favourites.
THE STRANGER'S CHILD I always notice, when I’m reading a Hollinghurst novel, that, despite the fact that I’m reading with ultimate pleasure, enjoying every word, gripped by the characters and their lives, there will be a moment, about halfway through the book, when I reaIize that nothing much has happened yet...
This certainly happened to me with The Stranger’s Child. It’s a glorious novel filled with the colour of the last century and characters I took away from the novel and thought about in my quiet moments. But I was waiting for a clear denouement - a twist, a shock...towards the end I was praying for it. But I should know by now, this is Hollinghurst; his is a comedy of manners, and as such he doesn’t go for big shocks. He has always reminded me of the 21C Jane Austin, writing with a fine brush (although I don’t know what Jane would have made of his subjects and themes; no doubt taken them in her booted stride). He rightly wins all the prizes, and now seems to be edging ahead of Ian McEwan in the ‘best British Novelist’ stakes. I do wish they’d stop doing that, as such things are all so subjective. ‘One of the best...’ would be sufficient for me
THE LINE OF BEAUTY Alan Hollignhurst only just tips my admiration for his earlier work FALLEN STAR, with this much vaster and heavier novel. Both are filled with wit and sparkle, and both have graphic scenes of gay sex. The former is perhaps a little more acidic in the earlier book, the latter better handled in Beauty, where a hedonistic life style is well described. I think of him as the Jane Austin of gay fiction.(UK 2004)