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The Blitz book club: The Line of Beauty

The Line of Beautyis the 2004 Man Booker Prize-winner from novelist Alan Hollinghurst. Set in London in the 1980s, the story centres on Nicholas Guest, a gay Oxford-educated youth who has managed to charm himself a lodging in an affluent Tory home, headed by MP Gerald Fedden. Fedden has two children: Toby, a school chum of Nick's (who Nick wants to sleep with), and Catherine, who is manic-depressive.

The story is Nick's journey with the Feddens, his search for love in a regal house, where downstairs, dukes and marquesses dine and dance in the salons (with Renoirs on the wall), while upstairs, groups of wealthy youth do coke and smoke pot.

Giving insight into homosexual haunts of the times, that of eerie Thatcherite Britain, the novel, naturally, touches upon the topic of AIDS, and Hollinghurst paints some stunning depictions of human suffering. Along with satirical portraits of vanity, this book evokes many emotions – of horror, of empathy, of sadness.

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