The Sparsholt Affair: Signed Exclusive Edition (Hardback)Alan Hollinghurst (author)
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In 1940, Evert Dax and David Sparsholt, two young men from very different backgrounds, meet at Oxford University. Dax is a second year student reading English, coming from a rackety upper middle class background; Sparsholt is from a humbler Midlands community and is reading engineering, a young man whose good looks and fine figure have proved highly attractive to his peers. This time is a unique one in the history of the university: with military call-up at twenty, soon brought forward to nineteen, almost all students come up to Oxford knowing that they will only have a year or so of study. A sense of futility is mixed with one of recklessness. All life after dusk is lived under black-out, encouraging and covering what would normally be impossible liaisons. What happens to these two men in this year will affect many lives and will set in motion the mystery at the heart of The Sparsholt Affair.
Alan Hollinghurst's masterly novel takes us through several generations and across key periods of uncertainty and change in British society. From the darkest days of the Second World War, it moves to the changing world of the a socially and sexually liberated London of the 1960s, before landing in the mid-1970s, with the three-day week, fuel shortages and power cuts. The reverberations continue through the next generation in the 1990s before reaching a conclusion in the present decade, a world of new media and new ideas. Throughout the novel there is also an examination of the visual and aesthetic, looking at what it is to be Modern, through modernist architecture and abstract painting: we witness buildings being destroyed and replaced; we watch works of art go in and out of fashion.
Featuring a remarkable cast of characters, The Sparsholt Affair is both thought-provoking and highly entertaining, a novel in which children are connected by the acts of their parents and individuals are both damaged and saved by the changing attitudes to sexuality, privacy and intimacy.
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Number of pages: 464
Dimensions: 234 x 153 mm
Edition: Main Market Ed.
"Hollinghurst is a master storyteller ... thrilling in the rather awful way that the best Victorian novels are, so that one finds oneself galloping somewhat shamefacedly through the pages in order to discover what happens next." - John Banville
Hollinghurst can make language do what he wants . . . It makes a lot of contemporary fiction seem thin and underachieving." - Evening Standard
Few writers' prose can throw a party as easily as retire to the library as Hollinghurst's." - Spectator
"Mr. Hollinghurst's great gift as a novelist is for social satire as sharp and transparent as glass, catching his quarry from an angle just an inch to the left of the view they themselves would catch in the mantelpiece mirror." - The New York Observer
"Hollinghurst has a strong, perhaps unassailable claim to be the best English novelist working today." - Guardian
"The work of a master . . . Hollinghurst's tale of dreaming spires and secrets is his finest novel yet. As one would expect of Hollinghurst, the greatest prose stylist writing in English today, this is a book full of glorious sentences, perhaps his most beautiful novel." - Alex Preston, Observer
"His prose is richly textured and alive with ironic wit. Alertness to tone and body language is acute. Urbanely satiric scenes, nicely fitted out with period detail, entertainingly unroll. Suave impalings of vanity are a speciality." - The Times
"Alan Hollinghurst's new novel is almost as hard to pin down as it is to put down. Its real subject seems to grow more, rather than less, mysterious as the book progresses. Meanwhile, the immense assurance of the writing, the deep knowledge of the settings and periods in which the story unfolds, the mingling of cruel humour and lyrical tenderness, the insatiable interest in human desire from its most refined to its most brutally carnal, grip you as tightly as any thriller." - Guardian