I’ve had The Stranger’s Child sitting on my Kindle for over a year. I think I’ve been reading it for over a year, although certainly not consistently. Thing is, I’ve read it entirely during short train or subway trips – never anything longer than 15 minutes – and only when I’ve not really had anything else to read. I read most of it on my phone with my Kindle app.
There wasn’t any particular reason for this slow real. It’s a reasonable piece of fiction. It’s set across several generations, all more or less loosely connected to one family which once contained a moderately famous, although not especially good, pre-war poet. The intrigue coming from the fact that the poet in question was gay, or perhaps bisexual, and that the family are either unaware of this or are aware but don’t want anyone to know.
It’s and extremely English novel. Annoyingly English. It’s not at all surprising that it made the Booker long list. I’ve heard it called “Downtown Abbey, but gay” and I suspect that that isn’t far off. It’s very middle class and a little bit middle of the road. I was sort of hoping that something more would happen – it never quite did.
It’s fine I guess, but just fine. There are far more interesting “gay novels” out there. I don’t regret having read it but I wouldn’t bother with anything else by Hollinghurst and I’d think very carefully before recommending it to any of my friends.