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The Sparsholt Affair

The Sparsholt Affair By Alan Hollinghurst The Sparsholt Affair In Evert Dax and David Sparsholt two young men from very different backgrounds meet at Oxford University Dax is a second year student reading English coming from a rackety upper middle class

  • Title: The Sparsholt Affair
  • Author: Alan Hollinghurst
  • ISBN: 9781447208211
  • Page: 142
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The Sparsholt Affair By Alan Hollinghurst In 1940, Evert Dax and David Sparsholt, two young men from very different backgrounds, meet at Oxford University Dax is a second year student reading English, coming from a rackety upper middle class background Sparsholt is from a humbler Midlands community and is reading engineering, a young man whose good looks and fine figure have proved highly attractive to his peersIn 1940, Evert Dax and David Sparsholt, two young men from very different backgrounds, meet at Oxford University Dax is a second year student reading English, coming from a rackety upper middle class background Sparsholt is from a humbler Midlands community and is reading engineering, a young man whose good looks and fine figure have proved highly attractive to his peers.This time is a unique one in the history of the university with military call up at twenty, soon brought forward to nineteen, almost all students come up to Oxford knowing that they will only have a year or so of study A sense of futility is mixed with one of recklessness All life after dusk is lived under black out, encouraging and covering what would normally be impossible liaisons What happens to these two men in this year will affect many lives and will set in motion the mystery at the heart of The Sparsholt Affair.Alan Hollinghurst s masterly novel takes us through several generations and across key periods of uncertainty and change in British society From the darkest days of the Second World War, it moves to the changing world of the a socially and sexually liberated London of the 1960s, before landing in the mid 1970s, with the three day week, fuel shortages and power cuts The reverberations continue through the next generation in the 1990s before reaching a conclusion in the present decade, a world of new media and new ideas.Thro
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    One thought on “The Sparsholt Affair

    1. Helle on said:

      I have NOT read this new novel by Alan Hollinghurst yet it only came out a few days ago but if anyone has, I d be grateful for a comment about it because PEOPLE I m due to ask AH himself a question on the phone this coming Monday It s for BBC world book club and will air on British radio in November Apparently they tracked down my review of his The Line of Beauty, and as Danes are in vogue in Britain, they picked me Holy moly

    2. Issicratea on said:

      Alan Hollinghurst makes you wait for his meticulously crafted novels, so they feel rather an occasion when they arrive He has published six now, at elegantly spaced intervals, over the almost thirty years since his 1988 debut, The Swimming Pool Library, with his 2004 Booker prize winning The Line of Beauty the most famous and, in my view, the best The Sparsholt Affair has strong structural and thematic affinities with Hollinghurst s previous novel, The Stranger s Child Both span a long period of [...]

    3. Blair on said:

      Six years ago, I loved Alan Hollinghurst s The Stranger s Child I leapt on The Sparsholt Affair as soon as it was published, not least because I thought it sounded rather similar The story is split into five parts, spanning a period of about 70 years It opens with a first person account set during the Second World War, with a group of Oxford students lodging together after being evacuated from their colleges Freddie Green, who narrates, is the nexus of a group that also includes Evert Dax, the g [...]

    4. Doug on said:

      4.5 Hollinghurst s sixth novel recapitulates both the structure and themes of his last novel, and therein lies both its strengths and weaknesses Divided into 5 sections, each taking place some ten or 20 years from the previous one, the reader has to work hard to not only fill in the gaps, but keep characters straight who are offstage for long periods of time e.g Jill, a very minor character from part one, makes a reappearance 250 pages on, when others arrive at her funeral, and I couldn t for th [...]

    5. Latkins on said:

      This novel is similar in structure to Hollinghurst s last one, The Stranger s Child, in that it jumps forward through time in each part It tells the tale of David Sparsholt and his son Johnny from the Second World War to the present day It begins with Freddie Green s account of David s arrival at Oxford University in 1940, and how his fine physique inspired an obsession in his gay friend Evert Dax It moves forward to the 1960s, when the Sparsholt family David, his wife Connie and their teenage s [...]

    6. Dickon Edwards on said:

      I was fortunate enough to be sent an advance proof of this, just in time for my MA dissertation on music in the novels of Hollinghurst Very grateful to Picador for that As of 15 Oct 2017, I ve written a thorough review for Birkbeck University s Contemporary Literature website It features some detective work on my part, regarding the real life images in the novel cclk pics or it dBriefly, I liked it a lot Though I do like Hollinghurst a lot, regardless Any Hollinghurst novel is a work of art I f [...]

    7. Andrew Schirmer on said:

      Sigh.A new novel by Alan Hollinghurst is always an event The paucity of Hollinghurst s output has been well noted, the adherence to a leisurely timetable of a novel every 6 7 years Add to this the Brexit discounted pound, how could one not place a pre order with UK and await the post for an early Xmas Early signs were good The Sparsholt Affair is another grand canvas much in mould of The Stranger s Child, five distinct parts composing an elegant ellipsis It begins in a place that Hollinghurst se [...]

    8. Eric Anderson on said:

      Since Hollinghurst s debut novel The Swimming Pool Library in 1988, he s published a new book in approximately six year intervals This is enough of a gap for each new novel by this much lauded writer to feel like an event His 2011 novel The Stranger s Child was a long ambitious story spanning a period of time from the First World War to close to the present day In chronicling the transition of time, he charted how the reputation of a poem and its poet transform over many years and subsequent gen [...]

    9. Jaclyn Crupi on said:

      How does Hollinghurst do it He writes a 450 page book in which not much happens despite the passage of time and yet he manages to fill it with small and not so small moments, all perfectly captured and characters you can t help but care deeply about His main preoccupation with this novel is time both the passing of it and societal changes It s stunning My first five star read of 2018.

    10. Krista on said:

      I ve developed an interest in him purely as the focus of your interest Yours and Peter s, I added, and watched him scowl I m following the whole Sparsholt affair scientifically I haven t read Alan Hollinghurst before, and as The Sparsholt Affair began, I thought I was in for a real treat The first section set at Oxford in 1940, with gowns and blackouts and fire watches on the ramparts was wonderfully atmospheric, and as a group of young men yearn and strive for physical closeness the narrator wi [...]

    11. James Chatham on said:

      4.5 stars Alan Hollinghurst s new novel, The Sparsholt Affair, is an impressive portrait of the titular character, David Sparsholt, through the eyes of various people surrounding him Beautifully and sensually written, it follows three generations, from Sparsholt s contemporaries at Oxford to his son to his granddaughter The major theme running through the novel is time There seems to be a comparison between the time one has to follow their desires in their youth vs the dwindling of time as one a [...]

    12. Bruno on said:

      A highly ambitious novel depicting the evolution of British society from World War II to the present day, the reshaping of perceptions about being gay, the transformation of family and relationships and the unceasing power of art and desire The story begins in Oxford during the blackout days, where a group of friends is seduced by the appearance of David Sparsholt, a new student coming from another college who also happens to be a brawny rower and a flirt From the second part onwards the novel m [...]

    13. Claire Fuller on said:

      Very similar in structure to The Stranger s Child, I loved this as much as I loved that, and The Line of Beauty, and The Swimming Pool library Not an awful lot happens, although many years pass, but these are fairly ordinary lives I just love how Hollinghurst writes, how he gets the tiny nuances of relationships one man wanting another, who doesn t really love him back I was lucky enough to get my hands on a proof copy, and I m going to see Hollinghurst speak in October.

    14. Will on said:

      Hmm, this did not quite grab me the way I thought it would I loved Hollinghurst s writing style spare, full of conversation fragments, allusions to past and future events, indirect references that you had to re read to get the meaning, sometimes not apparent until pages later It s at once simple but alluringly multilayered However the subject matter didn t do it for me I don t mean the gay sex that was actually quite an interesting eye opener but the upper middle class talk of the London art wor [...]

    15. Tim on said:

      In October 1940 the handsome young David Sparsholt arrives in Oxford from the Midlands to read engineering An athletic lad, he is unaware of the effect he has on others particularly on the romantic and awkward Evert Dax, son of a famous novelist While the Blitz rages in London, Oxford exists in a strange stage of uncertainty Between these two young men of very different backgrounds an unusual friendship develops, the consequences of which will unfold over the following seventy years.The novel is [...]

    16. Bill on said:

      Like all of Hollinghurst s books, I quite like this exploration of a family and their significant others The structure of the book is similar to that of his previous novel spanning 3 generations or so with kids and grandkids making discoveries and telling us about their ancestors Though the prose is excellent, I rather miss the poetic prose of The Line of Beauty and The Swimming Pool Library.7 of 10 stars

    17. Thomas Rose-Masters on said:

      It is often said of many good writers that they essentially keep writing the same book again and again, so preoccupied are they with the same themes and issues within their work In this instance, i m afraid that the cliched adage might have proven to be all too literally true for Alan Hollinghurst The Sparsholt Affair is, as expected, a meticulously written, stylish and readable novel however, it is eerily reminiscent not just of Hollinhurst s previous novel, The Stranger s Child, but of his Boo [...]

    18. Joachim Stoop on said:

      A novel in 5 parts part 1 4part 2 4,5part 3 1part 4 5 2Proof that wonderful prose doesn t guarantee a compelling story.This was waaaaay to long The magnetic effect of the detailed descriptions and observations gradually lost power I could t care less in the second half what yet another new soundalike character thought of this or that new lookalike character Lots of editors seem to be on strike in 2017

    19. Annette on said:

      Definitely in my top 5 books read this year Following the structure of Virginia Woolf s The Years the novel jumps forward in time to tell its story which may be too slow or insubstantial for some but not for me The writing and characterisation is superb and each era very exactly and effortlessly conveyed.The novel is divided into 5 sections The first section is narrated in 1st person by Freddie, a contemporary of David Sparsholt and he recounts how Sparsholt arrives at Oxford and is lushiously h [...]

    20. peg on said:

      Great characterization I especially love the way that Hollinghurst introduces the main characters in the opening scene and the bar scene around page 50

    21. Eric on said:

      A cozy must for fans and completists Everyone else will find better demonstrations of his time leap technique informed, he has said, by To the Lighthouse and Munro s Runaway in The Line of Beauty and The Stranger s Child, and intense prose in The Folding Star, my favorite.

    22. Shawn Mooney on said:

      BookTube review here youtu Sn SYlBbKb0I feel a peculiar kind of sadness, devastation even, that this novel which started out so brilliantly I expected it d end up being among my top reads of the year slipped out of Hollinghurst s grasp in the second half, evoking the quote about a painter losing a painting from Guare s Six Degrees of Separation The first section would have been a masterpiece as a stand alone novella.

    23. Will on said:

      3.5 for me, rounded up because it is impossible to ignore Hollinghurst s beautiful prose and style Not a bad rating, but lower than I had expected as I approached it with a degree of excitment I m not sure that I can pinpoint exactly what the problems were for me maybe it has to do with having expectations that were too high Maybe it was the plot one that meanders over decades and was never quite strong enough that it pushed me eagerly forward There were bursts of brilliance throughout, particul [...]

    24. Gerbrand Dunnewind on said:

      I have read all his novels except The Spell I like his writing style and the fact that in his novels gay characters play a major role For that The Sparsholt Affair is no different But I was quite disappointed with the story itself.The 460 pages are divided into 5 parts Part 1 starts in 1940, part two takes place in the mid sixties and the book ends around 2012 in part 5 This structure means that many things, including the affair, take place in between these parts Which makes it quite interesting [...]

    25. emma on said:

      This book has pretty much all the things I disliked about The Stranger s Child, multiplied by three I don t know what it is about Hollinghurst s novels the premises have always everything I enjoy in life, and then the actual novels leave me feeling empty Basically this is just a story about the long term effects a very handsome dude has on multiple people in the course of 70 or so years, and that is just not enough plot to support a nearly 500 pages novel.

    26. Laura Spira on said:

      Another very long book which in my view could have done with some judicious pruning I enjoyed the Stranger s Child so was looking forward to this, especially as it seemed to be another of those books that sweep you through several generations But the first section was very slow I think I ve read enough books about bright young things at Oxford before the Second World War to last a life time and I found it quite difficult to distinguish between the characters This lack of clear definition persist [...]

    27. Sean on said:

      Sparsholt Affair review This is a novel broken into five parts, and it begins with a segment that is set around 1940 at Oxford, where a number of undergraduates have become fixated upon a new man at the college, David Sparsholt They are entranced by his appearance only He shares none of their interests or values, except perhaps the creation of himself as an object to be admired Similarly two of the men want to have him, much in the way that one Evert will later acquire and sculptures Sparsholt i [...]

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