Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Line of Beauty

The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. If you want a proper summary of this book, you can go to your friendly neighborhood Wikipedia or Amazon, but I'll try to do it in one sentence just to give you a vague idea: In Thatcher-era Britain, a middle-class just-out-of-the-closet young man with a passion for Henry James (Nick) moves into the home of an upper-class family headed by a politician (the Feddens).

The Line of Beauty is an elegant seduction. Hollinghurst is able to describe and articulate subtleties and nuances without making them the opposite--no easy feat. His prose is like a ray of sunlight which clarifies what it touches while making it seem to glow in its own golden way. Like Nick, the reader settles into the home of the Feddens that Hollinghurst paints, so that by the time the 400-page book ends the reader finds herself nostalgic for the beginning. The Line of Beauty won the Man Booker Prize in 2004, and for good reason. The Line of Beauty is a masterpiece, and please don't mistake this for the usual hyperbolic book review.

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