In the late summer of 1913 the aristocratic young poet Cecil Valance comes to stay at ‘Two Acres’, the home of his close Cambridge friend George Sawle. The weekend will be one of excitements and confusions for all the Sawles, but it is on George’s sixteen-year-old sister Daphne that it will have the most lasting impact, when Cecil writes her a poem which will become a touchstone for a generation, an evocation of an England about to change for ever. Linking the Sawle and Valance families irrevocably, the shared intimacies of this weekend become legendary events in a larger story, told and interpreted in different ways over the coming century, and subjected to the scrutiny of critics and biographers with their own agendas and anxieties. In a sequence of widely separated episodes we follow the two families through startling changes in fortune and circumstance. At the centre of this often richly comic history of sexual mores and literary reputation runs the story of Daphne, from innocent girlhood to wary old age.
Around her Hollinghurst draws an absorbing picture of an England constantly in flux. As in The Line of Beauty, his impeccably nuanced exploration of changing taste, class and social etiquette is conveyed in deliciously witty and observant prose. Exposing our secret longings to the shocks and surprises of time, The Stranger's Child is an enthralling novel from one of the finest writers in the English language.
Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2011
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Christina on 28-07-11
Murder by Narrator
This is most definitely a book to read not hear. The reader offers a poor delivery and his 'voices' are almost identical plus there's not enough edge in his delivery to give the text the distinctive authoritative feel that I feel Hollinghurst's writing deserves. Truly a missed opportunity.
22 of 23 people found this review helpful
By Nicholas on 02-09-11
One more vote for the narrator
This just goes to show that taste in narrators is very personal - which is why it is a good idea to listen to the preview. I thought he had an excellent differentiation between voices.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Stephanie Whitelock on 30-08-11
Very dissapointing - dreadful narration
I was really looking forward to listening to this audiobook as it sounded like the perfect plot for me - a modern Brideshead Revisited - but the narration was so irritating (especially the depiction of the Cecil character and the women) with the inflections of the teenage Daphne completely wrong - that I had to stop listening after 7 chapters. Very disappointing. I kept trying to listen to this audiobook but I just couldn't finish it, although I really wanted to. With a different narrator I think I would have enjoyed this book far more. Even if they had used multiple narrators - two for the female characters, two for the male - it probably would have been better, but this single narrator couldn't manage all the voices and it just ended up being very grating.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Penni on 09-04-12
What did you like best about The Stranger's Child? What did you like least?
I was incredibly fascinated by the themes of biography, memory and memoir. I found the narration terrible, largely because all the characters seemed terribly trivialised and I suspect this wasn't wholly due to the writing, but rather the delivery.
What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?
I found Daphne's character the most fascinating, but I felt Hollinghurst lost interest with her. He exploited her naivity at the end, but I didn't really believe that a character who had negotiated so many complex relationships would be that naive.
I struggled with each transition, firstly to place the characters, but then to care about them. And then I felt Hollinghurst deliberately undermined any affection that might develop on behalf of the reader, though I wasn't sure why. Having said that I thought the structure was incredibly intriguing, and it was effective.
Would you be willing to try another one of James Daniel Wilson???s performances?
Do you think The Stranger's Child needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?
No, because the structure means it contains its own sequels.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful