The Stranger's Child

  • by Alan Hollinghurst
  • Narrated by James Daniel Wilson
  • 19 hrs and 56 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2011
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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What the Critics Say

"A holiday visit by an aristocratic young poet to Cambridge friend in the summer of 1913 sets off a chain of unforeseeable consequences. Over the following decades, the weekend acquires legendary significance among critics and biographers - a plot that allows Hollinghurst to unroll 'an almost century-long cavalcade of changing social, sexual and cultural attitudes." (The Week)
"His last book, The Line of Beauty, beautifully and often subtly explored Britain's class system, Thatcherism at its most triumphant, and some of the traumas of being gay in the 1980s. His latest book again explores the lives of hyper-privileged Britain - a possible primer for those intrigued by the backgrounds of some of our current rulers." (Owen Jones, The Observer)
"If you're staying in glorious old Blighty this summer we'd suggest The Stranger's Child by Alan Hollinghurst for a reminder of more gracious times, how things have changed (and how they haven't); described by Theo Tait as 'a sort of ironic meditation on the evolution of literary memory.'" (The Guardian)
"His last book, The Line of Beauty, beautifully and often subtly explored Britain's class system, Thatcherism at its most triumphant, and some of the traumas of being gay in the 1980s. His latest book again explores the lives of hyper-privileged Britain - a possible primer for those intrigued by the backgrounds of some of our current rulers." (The Obserbver)
"A holiday visit by an aristocratic young poet to Cambridge friend in the summer of 1913 sets off a chain of unforeseeable consequences. Over the following decades, the weekend acquires legendary significance among critics and biographers - a plot that allows Hollinghurst to unroll 'an almost century-long cavalcade of changing social, sexual and cultural attitudes." (The Week)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.
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- Christina

Some Beautiful Lines...

...of poetry lie at the heart of this story, which should entrance anyone who likes the kind of tale that invokes the other England of a century ago and traces a path through to the present. There are shades of 'Any Human Heart', and Sebastian Faulks' work; Hollinghurst's prose is measured and precise, full of insights and subtle witticisms, and the reading did it ample justice. In fact I was so impressed that I looked for other books narrated by JDW, though on inspection the rest of his oeuvre seems to be a completely different kettle of less appealing fish.
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- D C Norton

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-07-2011
  • Publisher: Macmillan Digital Audio