Alan Hollinghurst – The Line of Beauty

My local book group discussed this last month. I was the only one who enjoyed it. I felt I had to justify my position but found it difficult to explain why I liked it. It wasn’t nostalgia (the iconic cultural references are deliberately infrequent) and the characters bore no resemblance to my circle of friends. It is something to do with the writing; to be precise, the overall power of the writing.

“It’s just a load of eighties references interrupted by some shagging in the bushes” said one of those for whom the book didn’t entertain. “It’s 300 pages too long” said another. Maybe it is a little lengthy and yes, there is a lot of sex in it, but for a novel with few set pieces it was beautifully written. It lacks the cardboard character monsters of Martin Amis or the jokes of Jonathan Coe, but the line of beauty itself (a complex and multi-faceted figurine which ducks and dives throughout the text) could be enough to win it the Booker Prize this week.

I did wonder if it is possible to write a novel about the 1980s that isn’t a satire, though.