Sparsholt Affair
by Hollinghurst, Alan






"A multi-generational story of fathers and sons during the second half of the twentieth century in England"-





Alan Hollinghurst is the author of the novels The Swimming-Pool Library; The Folding Star; The Spell; The Line of Beauty, winner of the 2004 Man Booker Prize and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and The Stranger’s Child. He has also received the Somerset Maugham Award, the E. M. Forster Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction. He lives in London.





*Starred Review* It begins in the early years of WWII at Oxford, where a quartet of friends are spending their last days as students before joining the conflict. They are Freddie Green, a budding memoirist; Peter Coyle, a would-be artist; Evert Dax, whose father is a famous author; and beautiful David Sparsholt. The novel, notable for its sophistication, then follows the lives of the four over the course of decades, concluding in the near present. Freddie will become a writer, as will-like his father-Evert; Peter will die early in the war, while David will found a wildly successful engineering and manufacturing firm. A very public indiscretion will become known as the Sparsholt Affair and give the novel its title. In the meantime, David and his wife have a son, Johnny, who will grow up to become a successful portraitist and the protagonist of the later parts of the novel. Their brilliantly realized milieu is the world of art and literature and, for Evert and Johnny, who are gay, the evolving world of gay society and culture in Britain. Superlatives are made to describe this extraordinary work of fiction; characterization, style, mood, tone, setting-all are equally distinguished. Hollinghurst is especially good at evoking yearning, and, indeed, his novel will inarguably leave his readers yearning for more. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.





A man's inability to be honest about his sexuality has scandalous, and brutally public, consequences for several generations. At the outset of this novel, in 1940, all the gay men and at least one straight woman in a literary club at Oxford are infatuated with beautiful David Sparsholt, a first-year engineering student who initially seems oblivious to the attention. One student, Evert Dax, the son of famous, inexplicably bestselling novelist A.V. Dax, is determined to bed Sparsholt. (Ostensibly straight Freddie Green, whose memoir about his years at Oxford makes up the first section of the novel, claims Sparsholt has a "dull square face.") Sparsholt's straight bona fides (he has a girlfriend) soon come into thrilling question. The students watch warily at night for German bombs in the World War II-era opening of the novel, which soon transitions to 1966, when Sparsholt's 14-year-old son, Johnny, lusts after Bastien, a French exchange student who's living with his family. John ny is the heart of the story, and in the ensuing sections taking place over many decades he gives Hollinghurst the opportunity to track the vast, transformative changes in gay life since David Sparsholt attended Oxford. Johnny is a fascinating character: a painter who is sensitive, proudly bohemian, sometimes rejected in love, and still eager for love at an advanced age, but always calmly aware of who he is and the dangers of trying to be someone else. It's a lesson he learned from his father's arrogant belief that he could skirt the restrictive, heterosexual mores of pre-sexual liberation England. If this plot sounds like it couldn't possibly have been the work of a Man Booker Prize-winning author, part of Hollinghurt's (The Stranger's Child, 2011, etc.) bold talent in this novel, as in his previous work, is to make it evident that lust, sex, and who does what with whom in the bedroom (and even how) are fitting, and insightful, subjects of literary fiction. A novel full of l ife and perception; you end the book not minding that the actual Sparsholt affair gets just the barest of outlines. Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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