Book Review | The Line of Beauty

written by Allan Hollinghurst

This Picador 40th Anniversary edition of The Line of Beauty was a birthday gift from my lovely friend. Before I unwrapped the book, I have never heard of it, although I did notice the cover in the bookshop. Once I started the book, it was impossible to stop reading, the writing style was so good and pleasant. I thoroughly enjoyed all the themes that were explored in the novel, however there were several things I did not love or wished there was less information/mentioning of them. That is why I could not rate this book a five star.

1980s. Thatcher England. Nick Guest has just come down from Oxford and he moves in with his friend's family. The family is rich, what you would call high society, involved in English politics. This is the time when AIDS and HIV is having its spread, also the time when coming out if you're gay is accepted but not supported, yet. Nick is gay, and what we read about in The Line of Beauty is the life he lives, throughout several years, how him being gay affects his relationships in society, how AIDS kills his friends and lovers. Nick is indeed obsessed by almost every man he spots, and he wants to get every man he spots, however, he is not the alfa type, from what I read.

The social differences and classes were interesting to read about, and thinking that even not so long ago from today, class was a very important issue. Occasionaly, I felt that there was a bit too much politics discussed but that was simply one of the sub-themes of the book, so I got over it. What was described with precision was the gay sex, and quite often, so if you are not comfortable with sex scenes generally, I'd suggest not to pick this book up. There is also quite a lot of mention of drug use (and abuse). I like what Line of Beauty refers to - Hogarth's line of beauty, of course, but also a line of cocaine, as well as the line where something/someone is the idea of beautiful for one person, but not the other.

Book Review | The Jane Austen Book Club

written by Karen Joy Fowler

I saw this ugly, damaged, library edition of the novel couple of days ago when I went to the library, sitting there on the shelves, and decided it was about time I read this novel, six years after I saw the movie.
My experience with Jane Austen adaptations are not all very good. Mostly bad, actually. This summer I read Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler, and let me tell you - keep your hands of off this one, as it is one of the worst books I have read in my life. There are so many Austen adaptations out there, it is almost impossible to keep count of them. The Jane Austen Book Club is one that made it to the this-won't-make-Jane-want-to-rise-from-the-dead-and-cause-havoc group. Even though I found this book to be an ok one, not a brilliant one, it was entertaining, quite quick and easy to read and very sweet.

There are six people - Jocelyn, Bernadette, Sylvia, Allegra, Prudie, Grigg (the only man in this book club) - which is the same number as the number of Jane Austen novels being read in this book club. The novel is divided into six parts, every part lasts a month, and every month has got a novel and a character who takes the leading role, sort of, as well as hosts the book club at their place. It starts in March, and in March the novel being discussed is Emma, the character who is in the spot light is Jocelyn. In April, the novel is Sense and Sensibility, etc.

This novel is definitely not for someone who has never read a Jane Austen novel, or for those who strongly dislike her. There is a lot of talk dedicated to the main works of Jane Austen. Otherwise, the novel is about relationships, family, friendship, love and connection between people. And a little more. The centre of the story is not mainly the work of Jane Austen, but also the interconnection between the characters and their lives, and how they became who they are now.

What I really appreciated in this edition, and I don't know if the other editions of this novel have this as well, is that after the epilogue, there was a lot of accompanying material, such as a quick overview of Jane Austen novels, opinions and comments on her work by her friends and family, as well as from critics, writers and others, some of which were not very flattering. Which is something I really appreciated, even though this is a novel based on loving Austen, I am grateful that they didn't try to deny there were and still are a lot of negative responses to Jane Austen.