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Publisher's Summary

From the internationally acclaimed winner of the Man Booker Prize, a masterly new novel that spans seven transformative decades in England - from the 1940s to the present - as it plumbs the richly complex relationships of a remarkable family.

In 1940, David Sparsholt arrives at Oxford to study engineering, though his sights are set on joining the Royal Air Force. Handsome, athletic, charismatic, he is unaware of his effect on others - especially on Evert Dax, the lonely son of a celebrated novelist who is destined to become a writer himself. With the world at war, and the Blitz raging in London, Oxford nevertheless exists at a strange remove: a place of fleeting beauty - and secret liaisons. A friendship develops between these two young men that will have unexpected consequences as the novel unfolds.

Alan Hollinghurst's new novel explores the legacy of David Sparsholt across three generations, on friends and family alike; we experience through its characters changes in taste, morality, and private life in a sequence of vividly rendered episodes: a Sparsholt holiday in Cornwall; eccentric social gatherings at the Dax family home; the adventures of David's son Johnny, a painter in 1970s London; the push and pull in a group of friends brought together by art, literature, and love. And evoking the increasing openness of gay life, The Sparsholt Affair becomes a meditation on human transience, even as it poignantly expresses the longing for permanence and continuity. Witty, tender, epic in scope yet rich in observation, this is a dazzling novel of fathers and sons; of family and home by a writer hailed by The Wall Street Journal as "one of the best novelists at work today".

©2018 Alan Hollinghurst (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Masterful - written in elegant, captivating prose. The story sweeps along in five interlinked sections, in which the characters move through different stages of their lives and their country’s history. Hollinghurst shines a clarifying light on the gay and art worlds through decades of British cultural and political change. In this magnificent novel, Hollinghurst is at the height of his powers." (Publishers Weekly)

"Thrilling; fascinating...a novel full of life and perception. A man’s inability to be honest about his sexuality has scandalous, and brutally public, consequences for several generations. Hollinghurst tracks the vast, transformative changes in gay life over many decades. Part of Hollinghurst's bold talent in this novel, as in his previous work, is to make it evident that lust, sex, and who does what with whom in the bedroom (and even how) are fitting, and insightful, subjects of literary fiction." (Kirkus)

What members say

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Beautifully written book

I am a huge fan of Alan Hollinghurst and think this is his best book, so far, although I loved The Line of Beauty too. The rich detail of the telling of this story comes through beautifully.

The narrator was excellent. His ability with different voices was superb and enriched the experience of reading this book. Bravo!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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henry james improved for our age

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

the prose is so stunningly fine it takes your breath away....i have read all of his work and i find this is his finest

What other book might you compare The Sparsholt Affair to and why?

a stranger's child

Which character – as performed by David Dawson – was your favorite?

ivan

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

awe at what a well educated intellect is capable of in these sad times for the world

Any additional comments?

world goes to hell and i cling to a hollinghurst novel as a life-raft

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A captivating look at love, loss, and identity throughout the generations

Alan Hollinghurst plays narrator and omnipresent observer in the lives of a multigenerational cast of characters. Providing a look at the subtle nuance of being gay and in love at the cusp of World War II to the era of instant gratification and casual encounters brought forth by technology. You'll find yourself evolving alongside the narrative, being dropped head-first into each era as a transplanted observer. Hollinghurst leaves timelines blissfully vague, allowing you to discover more as the story progresses. The Sparsholt Affair will keep you surprised, engrossed and begging for more. The narration from David Dawson gives each character flavor and a sense of reality, adding to the rich complexity of the story. Overall, this has been my favorite audiobook experience and I look forward to listening again! This book and performance is well worth your time.