The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst
RATING: ★★★★★ (5/5!)
Slowly building in detail and complexity, The Stranger’s Child is a gripping saga spanning nearly a century. Hollinghurst captures, with such natural skill it seems effortless, the essence of each decade–the pre-war Edwardian years, the indulgent 20s and 30s, skipping to the brewing transitional year of 1967, then again to ’79, ending in contemporary 2008. The narration focuses alternately on a wide array of characters, largely the gay/queer men connected through time by their various literary pursuits, but not by any means forgetting the women that were caught up in the rather tangled web. The omniscient narrative voice is refreshingly broken-up with inserts of diary entries, letters, interview transcriptions, and excerpts of memoirs that offer more intimate tastes of characters’ voices. The novel offers a unique and not unwinking look at the English literary arena as it developed from the Edwardian period onward, filled with wit but also an undercurrent of sadness. With perceptive and beautiful descriptions of the complexities of human emotion and motivation, The Stranger’s Child delves into the fine balance between the true past and biography, things perceived and things felt, and all that will remain frustratingly unknown about the past.