LESSER KNOWN WORKS
In this item, we want to highlight some of the wonderful novels
English literature has to offer, but which are sadly
underappreciated by or unknown to the general public.
Alan Hollinghurst – The Stranger’s Child
In some ways Alan Hollinghurst’s The Stranger’s Child does not really fit into this category of unknown works; Hollinghurst is a wellknown and respected author, and this particular book was on the longlist for the 2011 Man Booker Prize. According to Professor Liebregts, however, it should have won (see the previous edition of the Angler) and, after having read it myself, I could not agree more. The story takes place in five different periods in the twentieth century. The first part is set in 1913, when a young poet, Cecil Valance, pays a visit to the house of his friend and fellow student George Sawle. Cecil makes a huge impression on George’s younger sister Daphne, and writes a poem for her. The rest of the story revolves around this very poem; in the second part of the story, Daphne is married to Cecil’s brother Dudley, and Cecil has died in the Great War. The poem he had written to Daphne has become famous, and throughout the rest of the novel we encounter a myriad of people, all of whom are interested in the life of Cecil Valance and want to figure out what were the real circumstances involved in the creation of his most famous poem. The Stranger’s Child takes us not only on a journey through time, but also on a journey past the often tragic events that happen to the main characters in the book. In fact, Hollinghurst shows us how a simple action can have many consequences: the poem Cecil writes for a young girl in 1913 has an impact beyond the imagination of any of the characters involved and one that spans almost an entire century. The lives of these people - some of whom are desperately trying to find the truth about Cecil and others who are as desperately trying to ignore it - are linked and intertwined in a brilliant way, and no matter how hard some of them try they cannot break away. The Stranger’s Child is a wonderful book – and not a difficult read! – that would have been a very worthy Man Booker Prize winner indeed.
Read this if:
- you like social history
- you like to read about the lives about many different people who react differently to the same events
- you like a beautiful story
Don’t read this if:
- you do not like lengthy books (my version is 564 pages)
- history frightens you
- people – and their feelings – frighten you