Book Review: The Stranger’s Child

Book Review: The Stranger’s Child
by Alan Hollinghurst
Buy it via Amazon

By the time I’d read the first few pages of this I knew why my friend had recommended it to me – all suppressed early-20th-century homoerotic undercurrents and (at least behavioural) bisexuality.

It generation-hops every few chapters, ending up in the first decade of the 21st century, and uses that opportunity to explore reliability of memory, subjectivity and interpretation of experience among the central group of characters, leaving a surprisingly satisfying uncertainty even when the book ends.

It also gives a sideways picture of how the experience of male homosexuality and/or bisexuality has changed over the last century in the UK, for queer/gay/ homosexual/bisexual men and to a certain extent for those around them.

The characters are rounded and human enough to be engaging without being especially likeable – just enough good points to keep me reading – and the fact that we only get a partial portrait of each one adds to the deliberate sense that we’re only being given part of the story.  The plot that is revealed is understated and fairly believable; it’s mostly a vehicle for the structure and the characters.

Overall, I found it very enjoyable: a good, queer page-turner.

Sharon Langridge