The 1995 Booker Prize finalist finally back in print.
Alan Hollinghurst's hypnotic and exquisitely written novel tells the story of Edward Manners, a disaffected 33-year-old who leaves England to earn his living as a language tutor in a Flemish city. Almost immediately he falls in love with one of his pupils, but can only console himself with other, illicit affairs. With this novel, Hollinghurst exposes us fearlessly to the consequences of unfulfillable, annihilating desire.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Alan Hollinghurst is certainly a crafty wordsmith. This book is beautifully written.
The story is basically that of an aging gay male becoming obsessed with his beautiful young student. Edward Manners becomes the tutor for a wealthy high school aged fellow, Luc. At first Edward sees a thin immature youth but as the story progresses, Edward becomes more obsessed with Luc and the descriptions of Luc change to match Edward's changing perception. This portion of the story is well told and certainly accurately portrays the process of obsession that seduces gradually, obliterating common sense and good judgement.
Edward recognizes that he has lost his bearings when he finds himself continually thinking about Luc, spying on him when he is on holiday with his friends, imagining him having sex with other young men or women, remaining fixated as to whether Luc is gay or straight, and even leaving tutoring sessions to use the bathroom so that he can smell Luc's dirty...
If you read Hollinghurst's first novel THE SWIMMING POOL LIBRARY, you know that the excellence of his writing puts him more in a tradition with the likes of such masters as George Eliot, Henry James and E.M. Forster than in the tradition of contemporary gay fiction, no matter how boldly graphic some of his moments might be. But whereas SWIMMING POOL LIBRARY is a breakneck tale of reckless, amoral and privileged youth before AIDS, THE FOLDING STAR is in some ways its spiritual successor - its mid30s protagonist has experienced enough loss (of his father, several friends, a first love) to have shed the certainty and arrogance that characterized the first book's young subject, and has fled his English hometown to a small unnamed city in Belgium where he becomes the tutor of two high school boys, one of whom, Luc Altidore, the subject of a previous mysterious "scandal," becomes his obsession. But as in LOLITA, the obsession is as sad as it is perverse, reflecting back more on...
The Folding Star was, in my opinion, one of the best books I have ever read. The writing is smooth and flawless, and the everything was beautifully and carefully constructed. Despite the fact that this book is about a controversial topic, homosexuality, I believe that it should be judged by its quality, which is outstanding. What made me enjoy this book the most was the rich variety of emotions that it provoked. Happiness, anxiety, fear, love, hate; they're all in this book, and they are brought about perfectly. The ending, in particular, provokes haunting, mixed emotions that will not be forgotten simply because the book has ended.
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