This was another reading group pick. It won a Man Booker prize and was much discussed on the blogs. The setting is London in the 80s, during the Margaret Thatcher days. Nick, the son of a middle-class antiques dealer, has gone to Oxford and become friends with the wealthy son of a Member of Parliament. The family invites Nick to stay at their London home for the summer after graduation. He stays for four years and gets caught up in all the family drama.
Nick is also a gay man coming into bloom. He has his first love affair that summer. He is completely boy crazy and eventually ends up as the lover of Wani, son of a super rich Lebanese family, whose money was made in a chain of grocery stores.
So there is lots of explicit gay sex, lots of coke, the woes and quirks of the English moneyed class, politics and corruption, AIDS of course, and endless descriptions of it all. Hollinghurst is a lover (in the literary sense) of Henry James, who is an author I have not ever really liked. Hollinghurst is possibly trying to be the Henry James of this century. Actually, I enjoyed this book more than any Henry James I've read, but it is not a book I could love. I purely hate people like the Feddens, the MP's family. I have no sympathy for the rich. Gay sex is not my cup of tea, as it were. Hollinghurst can write and his satire is biting. I am not sure he can really feel.