• The Swimming Pool Library

  • By: Alan Hollinghurst
  • Narrated by: Samuel West
  • Length: 12 hrs and 21 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release date: 19-09-06
  • Language: English
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars 4.3 (142 ratings)

Summary

This novel centres on the friendship of William Beckwith, a young gay aristocrat who leads a life of privilege and promiscuity, and the elderly Lord Nantwich, who is searching for someone to write his biography.
©2006 Alan Hollinghurst (P)2014 Audible, Inc.
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Critic reviews

"West has a lot of fun with the waspishly clever dialogue, and, provided you ensure it's not overheard by listeners of delicate sensibilities, this is terrific to listen to." (Karen Robertson, The Sunday Times)
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Regular price: £18.79

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By common reader on 14-01-09

Gay lit. of the highest order

Alan Hollinghurst cleverly structures his story to provide a representation of homosexual lives over several generations. Older gay men reading this novel will recognise the signs of the changing times and, I hope, rejoice at the emergence of freedoms so abundantly enjoyed by the likes of the narrator.

I do not agree with the previous reviewer that the sex scenes are done in "the best possible taste". They are described realistically and honestly in the way that such scenes rarely are, be the fiction gay or straight. No adult should be shocked by the acts, but rather by the honesty.

Samuel West's reading is sympathetic and absorbing, though a little lacking in characterisation for a first-person narrative.

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5 of 5 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Lucy on 20-09-16

Wonderful voice acting

Absolutely perfect voicing for Hollinghurst. Please do more! This book captures a beautiful part of the human condition flawlessly. I didn't want it to end.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Here-and-faraway on 06-07-13

Offers Insight

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

It depends on the friend. This book is NOT for everyone. It graphically describes the life of a promiscuous gay man. So if the topic of homosexuality or detailed sex scenes disturb you, then steer clear. Also, black people are almost like fetish objects in this novel. Many of the upper-crust, white British men in the novel are VERY attracted to Africans. Although the wealthy men are genuinely sickened by hate crimes, they also don't quite see black people as "human" either. It's like people from Africa are viewed as some sort of enchanted, mythological creatures to be sought after and adored. I don't want to give the impression that the book centers on race relations, but some of the ways that black people are described made me feel uncomfortable. I think that Hollinghurst purposely did this to further explore the idea of what it's like to be viewed as an "other" in mainstream society.

I would recommend this book to a friend who loves beautiful writing and strong characterization. I would recommend it to a friend who enjoys thinking about things that they've never considered before. Before this novel, I never thought about how so much "homosexual history" was covered up, changed, or never recorded to begin with. Just like in Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child, the idea of what is forgotten and what is chosen to be remembered hangs heavily.

What did you like best about this story?

How it let me see the world through a new set of eyes.

What does Samuel West bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He is a fantastic narrator. All of his characters sound unique and he does a fantastic job with different dialects and accents. Perfect pacing, smooth voice, lovely narration, perfect execution of wit... I would love to hear another story read by him.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes, but I don't want to spoil things for you... There's a part that will stick with me for a long time.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By John on 04-08-12

Hollinghurst's first and among the best.

If you could sum up The Swimming Pool Library in three words, what would they be?

great period piece

What did you like best about this story?

Listening to it twenty years after reading it made me realize how much I had changed. It's a great description of upper class British life. Hollinghurst's lush writing is in full bloom.

What does Samuel West bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Sam West's narration makes this an good example of listening surpassing reading. His Lord Nantwich is spot on. It's Hollinghurst's ear for British language that provides such great material. Sam brings the fellow to life.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Gay England in the late 20th century.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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