Rall 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 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 himself Books should be better than this Seems to be just another sad gay novel a la Boys in the Band It s very unusual for me not to finish a book I started but I did give up on this oneAnd it s not asy to say why There is certainly a high level of skill in the writing this is not anything as simple as a bad writerI would say that for me there was a slightly arch tone perhaps not uite full irony but somehow the reader stands at a distance from the characters as if there is a slight condescending attitude towards them Now I could be completely and utterly wrong and someone R High Performance Programming else might find this novel brilliant social satire It s very very BritishI just found it sterile and tediousbut then hey I m probably too stupid 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 stillnthralled The storyline is fairly basic it s a bunch of characters going through a few years together but it works This is about the characters the tongue in cheek humour and themes than it is about the story It doesn t come down on any sides really politically or otherwise it s an xplanation of the people and how they see the world As a Londoner I njoyed the setting and it was interesting to see how gay people navigated the world ten years before I was bornSince this I ve only read The Swimming Pool Library by Hollinghurst I did njoy that but not as much as The Line of Beauty 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 nthralled 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 The Qur'an, Morality and Critical Reason: The Essential Muhammad Shahrur enthralled with Henry James but the real line of beauty isnthralling 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 ven 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 ducated and a uasi Don he offers a tacit legitimacy in his otherwise middle class admiration that someone Heaven to Betsy else wouldn t be able to offerven 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 bea. 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.
The protagonist in this novel is So B. It exploring his sexuality but seems obsessed He is a young gay man who wants to open doors within a sphere of influence due to money and power neither of which he has His fawning need to be all things to all people is tedious but his observations of social s are accurate and detailed This is the strength of the novel You can see that he is going to be the agent of a scandal In that the protagonist has lost sight of the bigger picture Personally I have had to take freuent breaks from reading this novel His promiscurity is irritating in that it is indiscriminate See what you think An appropriately applauded modern day masterpiece where the author understands thatffective prose has got a function beyond acting as an Cabaret engine for the plot He maximises the use of language to let the reader inhabit the deep ambiguities that are at the heart of humanxperience 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 xperience of a middle class mphasis 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 nd 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 pidemicI 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 Trading Places: The Netherlandish Merchants in Early Modern Venice extrapolation of this sensitivity to his gaze at the male anatomy hisngagement with the people and En plein coeur 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 inual parts The Bookshop on the Shore 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 credibleye 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 Dance Real Slow elements literal tonal subtextual which means that the literalities do not matter for the longest of timesven 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 The Art of Memoir 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 anphiphany and an motion 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 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 ntertaining 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 xplorations of friendship sexuality and drugs that the story ngages 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 ven if the activities of this particular household are personally fairly damningViewed from the perspective of austerity Britain the presentation of the conomically booming Britain of the 80s is arguably ven 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 ndearing 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 narrativeOve. 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.
Utiful 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 Integrity Restored: Helping Catholic Families Win the Battle Against Pornography 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 storynds 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 The Taste of Night (Signs of the Zodiac, 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 Bothnd 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 ven 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 veryone in Gerald s circle didn t know Nick was gay Nick never made a secret of it xcept 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 tc 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 The Road From Home: The Story Of An Armenian Girl even buy and sell the clocks He wanted to live in the mansionsIn thend he might have learned that beautiful things don t necessarily make for beautiful people And Exile and Pilgrim even with beautiful people that beauty is only skin deep But that too is left ambiguous These charactersnd the book no better in most cases much worse and with no insight than when they ntered It s a hard book to like for that reason But the characters are so clearly drawn ven 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 Hannah Montana: The Movie ended otherwise 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 andxpansive point of view of a close narrator Let it wash over youAnd readers of all kinds should read this Don t be put off by the novel of manners feel of it because this is subversive and in its subversion is its motional depth High school students should be reading this book for its deep reach into the world of hidden lives the random judgments we feel ntitled to makeImportant and wonderful bookHighly recommend Thoroughly njoyed 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 nd 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 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 daughter and then a scapegoat for the disgrace which comes to them partly through her they turn to or on the gay person whom until now they have been content to admit and ven cultivate seeing him not so much as a gay but as a unuch The situation is complicated by the use of cocaine one meaning of The line of beauty in which Nick central character is complicit but AH s Cardiovascular Pet: Current Concepts essential point Ld Nick becomes caught up in the Feddens' world In anra of ndless 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.