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.