The Sparsholt Affair

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The full surrender to love we feel in youth often stays with us long past the fire ignited by that initial spark has died. Alan Hollinghurst’s latest novel, The Sparsholt Affair begins with that initial delirious spark as young Evert Dax finds himself completely infatuated when new student David Sparsholt arrives at Oxford.

As the novel unfolds in the first section, stated to be part of a memoir found in character Freddie Green’s things after he died, Evert’s fascination with David is documented as a surprising, entertaining parade to which Freddie is witness. We see David as possibly duplicitous, Evert as blind to this possibility, and Freddie as documentarian of their beginnings. But it is in the second section, when the book moves forward in time to David’s future, married with an artist son named Johnny, that the book truly takes root.

It is through Johnny that we learn about Freddie Green, Evert Dax, and his own father, the once alluring and still enigmatic David Sparsholtz. As Johnny comes of age and explores and then embraces his own homosexuality, it is his life that is the mirror held up against the lives of these older men. The fact that Hollinghurst himself is gay should assure readers that the characters and scenarios he has created are not caricatures but beautiful renderings in language so precise it can stop your breath. Much like the paintings that figure heavily in the book, Hollinghurst has created a novel that shows more with each viewing, and the mystery at the heart of the text becomes more and more compelling.

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Author Alan Hollinghurst
Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 432 pages
Publisher Knopf
Publish Date 2018-Mar-13
ISBN 9781101874561
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue October 2018
Category Modern Literature


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