A novel set in three parts, Alan Hollinghurst’s Man Booker Prize winning novel The Line of Beauty traces the journey of Nick Guest, a young gay man who is 20 years old when the books begins in 1983 London. A middle class man from Birmingham, Guest becomes a houseguest at the home of Toby Fedden, a former classmate from Oxford. The household comprises Toby’s father who is a Tory Member of Parliament and an ardent supporter of Margaret Thatcher, his mother and his sister Catherine who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
As Guest becomes more deeply entrenched in the Fedden home while exploring his sexuality freely for the first time, he struggles with the hypocrisy of a life spent in a politically conservative household that chooses to ignore his homosexuality. This underlying friction gets further pronounced in the second and third parts of the novel, as Guest finds past lovers getting caught up in the emerging AIDS crisis, while sinking into a world of glitzy parties and drugs.
The Line of Beauty is a novel that shines in its provocative depiction of a very particular time in England’s history – at one point Margaret Thatcher makes an actual appearance – while reflecting on sexuality, family and mental illness.
Published in 2004.