The Stranger's Child - Alan Hollinghurst
It's taken me a long time to get around to reading a Hollinghurst novel and I wish I'd done so sooner. His writing is a revelation: great characterisation, a wonderful evocation of time and place and beautiful, beautiful prose. One of the things I particularly love about this novel - which is in five sections, each set in a different year from 1913 to 2008 - is the way in which Hollingurst plunges the reader into each part of the narrative. I also love seeing the central character, Daphne Sawle, at a number of stages in her life, from childhood to extreme old age. It's a bit like seeing a person's entire life, speeded up by time lapse photography. Overall, while the novel has its flaws, it's an interesting story, extremely well told. And it will probably make me approach literary biographies differently in future. Hollinghurst really brings home how the sources used by biographers are only as reliable as their memory and their self-interest allow them to be. This was an extremely engaging novel to read and I very much enjoyed sharing it with my friend Jemidar.