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Passages of time

The themes of time and chance loom large in Alan Hollinghurst’s polished novel

By Gillian Tindall   July 2011

The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst (Picador, £20)

Do not be put off by the first section of this novel. As you read it, you may feel trapped in over-familiar pre-first world war territory, a spacious English garden filled with drifting whiffs of The Shooting Party, The Go-Between, Guy and Pauline and Howards End. You may also feel that you’ve read enough before about chaps with fly buttons giving each other meaningful looks; and that you can do without a sentimental portrait of a character who is clearly a conscienceless bisexual philanderer whose much-vaunted poetry is no more than second-rate…

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