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Alan Hollinghurst [ Ebook ] The Line of Beauty

REVIEW The Line of Beauty

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. SPOILER ALERTMiddle class but upwardly hopeful Nick Guest comes to Tory MP Gerald Fedden s house first as a vacation houseminder and ostensible watcher of the unstable daughter Catherine Cat Nick is in pursuit of beauty of a certain type Beauty is in many things but Nick is enthralled by beauty as manifested in privileged lives and its beautiful thingsInvited to stay after the vacation as a useful dogsbody he gets to be the hanger on of wealth and dabbler in their society Always obseuious he becomes a foil for family head and MP Gerald s boasting a constant reassurance and dutiful uasi son to the mother Rachel he s much sympathetic to her than to his own mother who he is vaguely ashamed of and a companion and minder to the manic depressive CatNick s biggest problem as a character is that he is such a sycophantic bluenose With his labor friends he reviles Thatcher and comments negatively on Gerald To Gerald and his friends and relations he acts the supportive respectful Tory This chameleon like character makes him hard to respectSupposedly working on getting an advance degree on Henry James at UCL in London he seems in pursuit of love But after dabbling in a relationship with middle class clerk who it is foreshadowed will dump him because he has no money he becomes a kept boy for a rich Lebanese millionaire and former Oxford classmate Wani Ouradi Nick s finances are tied to his tentative relationship with Ouradi his living and personal situation tied to his relationship with the Feddens While other rich companions from his graduate class are starting lives making names and fortunes middle class Nick s can t leave the mein of his college companions but can t afford it himself he was a scholarship student at Oxford so remains stuck in sycophantic roles to stay in that social setNick was enthralled with Henry James but the real line of beauty is enthralling than its fictional dissection Instead Nick helps start up Wani s magazinefilm company OGEE named after the line of beauty arch But Wani is something of a dilettante interested in cocaine porn and sex Nick s job is something of a pose Wani goes through a lot of cocaine a lot of rent boys a lot of sex with Nick He gives Nick a salary and car while they do tacit work on the magazine and a film script But Wani openly reviles Nick as just another one of the many paid sluts who takes his money Nick basically is a respectable looking safe but hidden sexual companion no acknowledged than the anonymous rent boysNick constantly professes love to his lovers and adopted family But none take Him seriously as if sensing his shallowness Indeed often the sentence after Nick professes love to someone he wonders at himself for doing so Whatever these relationships are they aren t love His first lover it is hinted at trades Nick up for someone with funds before Nick snags Wani wanting to love him for his physical beauty even knowing Wani s faults There s convenience and a bit of regard but no real tieSimilarly Nick tells Catherine that he loves her family but he s there for a job as well as a minder to Catherine a general dogsbody and an impressionable and appreciative mirror reflecting their wealth Because Nick loves the Fedden s privileged life he gives it brilliance a reflective glow Therein lies his real usefulness Oxford educated and a uasi Don he offers a tacit legitimacy in his otherwise middle class admiration that someone else wouldn t be able to offer even perhaps get in the door Gerald shows off to him and uses him as a verification of their own wealth and privilege Nick s basically just a different kind of slut for the FeddensMeant to be a sort of touchstone Catherine reviles pretense babbles of speaking truths She s angry that Nick doesn t leave Wani because their relationship must be kept hidden When he tells her he stays with Wani because he finds him so physically beautiful she tells him that people shouldn t be loved because they are beautiful That people are beautiful because we love themNick only usefulness reuires being a convenient reflective foil for beauty but that means keeping ugliness hidden Gerald s indiscretions Wani destructive lifestyle etc When Catherine in a manic phase blurts out some of these truths to the press Nick s only usefulness then is as a sort of scapegoat Wani now dying of AIDS pays Nick off in his will but never speaks of love And Nick discovers there was never any love in these relationships nor any beauty But has he learned his shallow uest was in vainThe story ends in ambiguity Both Nick s lovers succumb to AIDS We don t know if Nick is HIV positive In the film the impression is left that he has been lucky in that even as he still searches clueless for beauty In the book which goes a bit darkly into Nick s insincerities and obseuiousness Nick believes he will become positive as well Both end with Nick and the rest of the characters not having learned much Adversity hasn t made them better Rather their own flaws have brought them all down So it is hardly a positive story Even Catherine who reveals others truths and secrets does it from a manic sense of mischievousness and not from any sense of moral certainty One telling scene is of her sitting in her Uncle s French manoir telling a multi millionaire who didn t contribute than fifty pence to a church restoration that he has too much money When he asks her and she has a significant inheritance what she gave she claims she had no money on herSome reviewers and I think the author make a thing of that Nick s troubles may have to do with homophobia I didn t see that The gap between Nick and the Feddens even between Nick as a potential mate for Wani was financial and cultural than gender oriented Nick was a hanger on a sycophant a leech because he thirsted after what he saw as a beautiful lifestyle Gerald was brought down by a financial scandal then by a petty affair with his secretary When the news of Nick s sexuality came out in the papers it wasn t as if everyone in Gerald s circle didn t know Nick was gay Nick never made a secret of it except to Wani s father Gerald flies in a fury at Nick because he thinks that Nick told his daughter about Gerald s affair with his secretary that Nick had secret knowledge of And that Cat blabbed to the papers Without that Gerald might have survived the financial scandal But Cat discerned that herselfIn his rage Gerald includes a lot of slurs against gays as well as against middle class opportunists etc when he reviles Nick Certainly Nick s being gay was a central part of his life but I don t think it was all that central to the plot s denouement To me that had to do with character not gender orientation Nick s problems were because he didn t build a life of his own but instead based his life on being a hanger on for others attracted by a lifestyle he had no legitimate ownership of His father was a buyer and seller of antiuities a caretaker of ancient clocks in mansions Nick didn t want to come to the mansions merely as a winder of clocks or to even buy and sell the clocks He wanted to live in the mansionsIn the end he might have learned that beautiful things don t necessarily make for beautiful people And even with beautiful people that beauty is only skin deep But that too is left ambiguous These characters end the book no better in most cases much worse and with no insight than when they entered It s a hard book to like for that reason But the characters are so clearly drawn even if they are rather shallow unworthy characters that you want something to have happened I think the author has a dislike for the period and these characters and doesn t believe anything good should come out of it One of the most striking scenes is when the housekeeper tells Nick she always suspected he was no good Nick is stunned but as reader we have to be in tacit agreement having seen the false part Nick has often played in all his relationships Still the lack of any positive resolution means that the characters stay in your head because you wish it ended otherwise

CHARACTERS Ø DEALSONWINES.CO.UK ´ Alan Hollinghurst

The Line of Beauty

And their children Toby and Catherine Nick had idolized Toby at Oxford but in his London life it will be the troubled Catherine who becomes his friend and his uneasy responsibility At the boom years of the mid 80s unfo. An appropriately applauded modern day masterpiece where the author understands that effective prose has got a function beyond acting as an engine for the plot He maximises the use of language to let the reader inhabit the deep ambiguities that are at the heart of human experience After a long time I felt like I got to feel the throb of the heart that keeps literary fiction alive and a page of Hollinghurst is all one needs to feel the heat and the beatCourageously written in third person narrator spanning four years in Thatcher years it tracks the experience of a middle class emphasis on his class fresh out of university Nick who starts boarding in one of his affluent friend s house in Kensington Between holidays in rural France clocking up boyfriends secretly and paryting with the rich and the powerful it s boom time for the Tories he graduates slickly from a tagalong to a self fashioned aesthetic advisor and smugly mistakenly believes he has become one of them an Insider Then he missteps or rather finds himself at the wrong end the chips fall and he is promptly shown the door Around this misunderstanding of intimacies and loyalties he witnesses some of his paramours swallowed whole by the raging AIDS epidemicI found Nick to be a very curious narrator and was absolutely bewitched by his contradictions He is at heart a deeply sensitive man with a penchant to appreciate beauty of the surfaces art architecture with a repertoire of appreciating ranging from Henry James poised prose all the way to the contrapuntal beauty in Rachmaninov s Symphonic Dances And yet other than a literal extrapolation of this sensitivity to his gaze at the male anatomy his engagement with the people and enuiry into his own behaviour remains detached analytical and oddly passive for a good two thirds of the book This makes him a phenomenally interesting protagonist who in eual parts enticed and indifferent is traipsing through the aisles of high life casually soaking the decadence without letting the moral radar prod through Despite being given a credible eye for surfaces Hollinghurst has packed him chockfull with deep interiorities And the result is that the book reads very deeplySuffice to say I have found in Hollinghurst a master prose stylist absolutely in control of all the elements literal tonal subtextual which means that the literalities do not matter for the longest of times even though the author has painstakingly researched and concealed this research to let the characters breathe and the reader feel their company and the times they live in There is not a sentence wasted or spent wandering In what could be termed a traditional manner of constructing and delivering big novels little character and event details mentioned uietly like leitmotifs in the initial pages are made to gradually develop seemingly organically over the four years but obviously the author is pulling the strings and made to come together to form a climactic movement in the foreground that wrenches an ephiphany and an emotion out of his reader almost like a musical symphonyRest assured I d be returning to this book for the sheer brilliance of the writing performance and an offensively high number of uotable lines Bravo

Alan Hollinghurst ´ 1 READ & DOWNLOAD

Ld Nick becomes caught up in the Feddens' world In an era of endless possibility Nick finds himself able to pursue his own private obsession with beauty a prize as compelling to him as power and riches are to his friend. At the time of writing this this Kindle version of the Booker Prize winning The Line of Beauty was a paltry 89p I would say this is a fantastic bargain for a thoroughly entertaining story that I would retrospectively have paid full price for anywayThe story follows Nick Guest a gay graduate from Oxford University who has found himself adopted by the family of Gerald Fedden Fedden is the father of Nick s friend from university Toby Gerald Fedden is a fairly prominent Conservative politician whose political career provides a constant background to the explorations of friendship sexuality and drugs that the story engages withThe most pleasing aspect about the novel is the way that it deploys Nick s viewpoint to flit in and out of the broader political context which avoids it becoming a staid political critiue of Thatcher s Britain Readers therefore avoid being manipulated towards a simplistic conclusion about Tory Britain in the 80s even if the activities of this particular household are personally fairly damningViewed from the perspective of austerity Britain the presentation of the economically booming Britain of the 80s is arguably even compelling The casual attitude to both drugs and wealth certainly gives food for thought and provides a significant reminder to the reader about the social legacy that underpins the political machinations of 21st century politicians a significant number of whom would have partied with the best of them at the kind of parties detailed within the fabric of this novelThere are few characters that are very likable in this novel and it is perhaps a telling fact that one of the most endearing characters is Catherine Toby s mad sister who than anyone sees the society that she freuents for what it really isI only really had one criticism of the novel In my opinion and this wasn t shared by my friend who I discussed the book with the other day Hollinghurst s prose struck me as being a little pretentious at times particularly with regard to his lexical choices which reflected to me a slightly contrived attempt to puff up the intellectual clout of the narrativeOverall I would thoroughly recommend The Line of Beauty It immerses the reader in a fascinating period of history for the UK giving an intense flavour of a Tory led society that publicly struggled to keep a lid on the private cocktail of sex drugs and sexuality that bubbled underneath threatening to shatter the foundations of the family centric idyll of Conservatism


10 thoughts on “The Line of Beauty

  1. says:

    SPOILER ALERT

    Middle class but upwardly hopeful Nick Guest comes to Tory MP Gerald Fedden's house first as a vacation houseminder, and ostensible watcher of the unstable daughter Catherine (Cat). Nick is in pursuit of beauty of a certain type. Beauty is in many things, but Nick is enthralled by beauty as manifested in privileged lives and its beautiful things.

    Invited to stay after the vacation a

  2. says:

    This book of course is well written but the characters are just despicable. I hated Nick the gay character the most. He never once stood up for

  3. says:

    The protagonist in this novel is exploring his sexuality, but seems obsessed. He is a young gay man, who wants to open doors within

  4. says:

    Reading this was, for me, like a long vacation in a gorgeous and sacred place. A perfect book with beautifully crafted sentences, descriptions of place that carry the weight of story, and then also masterful scene and character development. It's a book that anyone interested in writing (or reading like a writer) should read to learn about a beautiful line, the clear and expansive point of view of a close narrator. Let it wash ov

  5. says:

    It's very unusual for me not to finish a book I started, but I did give up on this one.
    And it's not easy to say why. There is certainly a high level of skill in the writing this is not anything as simple as a b

  6. says:

    An appropriately applauded modern day masterpiece where the author understands that effective prose has got a function beyond acting as an engine for the plot. He maximises the use of language to let the reader inhabit the deep ambiguities that are at the heart of human experience. After a long time, I felt like I got to feel the throb of t

  7. says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed this. Brought back so many memories of the 80s. Wonderfully well written. So much, ‘I wish I’d said that’. I felt for Nick. Although he’d benefited so much initially from the casual generosity of the Feddens, he paid for it in the end. It dovetails with recent TV programme ‘It’s a Sin’ and there’s a hint of ‘Brideshead Revisited’. I hope we’ve moved forwards a bit since then. Brilliant read.

  8. says:

    This was the first novel by Alan Hollinghurst I read, and so far my favourite! He is able to write paragraphs of description where not much happens but I'm still enthralled. The storyline is fairly basic, it's a bunch of characters going thro

  9. says:

    At the time of writing this, this Kindle version of the Booker Prize winning 'The Line of Beauty' was a paltry 89p. I would say this

  10. says:

    Hollinghurst's PhD was about homosexuality in Forster, Firbank and Hartley, and he's used a series of novels to point up the gay's dilemmas at various stages of c20. In Lo B we're in 1980s, where Greed is Good and corruption at the heart of public life, But when the affluent Feddens need, first a babysitter (for their bi polar da

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