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In the late summer of 1913, George Sawle brings his Cambridge schoolmate—a handsome, aristocratic young poet named Cecil Valance—to his family’s modest home outside London for the weekend. George is enthralled by Cecil, and soon his sixteen-year-old sister, Daphne, is equally besotted by him and the stories he tells about Corley Court, the country estate he is heir to. But what Cecil writes in Daphne’s autograph album will change their and their families’ lives forever: a poem that, after Cecil is killed in the Great War and his reputation burnished, will become a touchstone for a generation, a work recited by every schoolchild in England. Over time, a tragic love story is spun, even as other secrets lie buried—until, decades later, an ambitious biographer threatens to unearth them.
Rich with Hollinghurst's signature gifts—haunting sensuality, delicious wit and exquisite lyricism—The Stranger’s Child is a tour de force: a masterly novel about the lingering power of desire, how the heart creates its own history, and how legends are made.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Here-and-faraway on 01-19-13
I Hated For It To End
What did you love best about The Stranger's Child?
I loved both its characters and the way the writer explores how and what is remembered.
What other book might you compare The Stranger's Child to and why?
I could loosely compare it to A.S. Byatt's Possession or Tennysons' "In Memoriam" (where the story got its title from.) Like Possession, we see biographers trying to unravel the mystery of what a famous poet was really like and who he was romantically involved with. Unlike Possession, the story isn't centered on "who dun' it" (although there are some surprising twists at the end), but rather who is remembered, how they are remembered, and who is forgotten. It's very poignant to see who and what is lost.
Which scene was your favorite?
The ending left me with chills. I also listened to the first part of the story over and over again because it is so well crafted.
If you could take any character from The Stranger's Child out to dinner, who would it be and why?
I adored Daphne, but would probably take Cecil out to dinner just to see what kind of mischief he would get himself into.
Any additional comments?
This is a beautifully written book. The author really knows his craft. The pace is set on slow burn. The book isn't about exposing one shocking revelation after another, but rather about how things are revealed and chosen to be remembered. You know that feeling when you finish a story and wish there was more? When you can't start anything else because what you just read was so good? When the story's over, but it still hangs like a veil over your daily life? That's where I am right now, after completing The Stranger's Child. It's definitely something I will listen to again.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By augustine on 09-24-12
A Stranger's Story
Having read Hollinghurst' "The Line of Beauty", I was prepared for the homosexual themes of this book. If that bothers you, then I would stay away from this audible listen.
I was not however prepared for the sketchiness of the novel. It is done by a master writer, but do not expect a story that reveals itself in any sort of traditional way. What emerges is the broken bits of a life and of the lives that are touched by the poet character.
Much like life itself, expect a mash up of events, desultory memories and skeletons best left in closets. A masterful work and reading.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful