Alan Hollinghurst’s saga about The Stranger’s Child

Reading The Stranger’s Child can be compared to interpreting poetry: a constant search for hidden meanings, interpreting the insinuations, gestures and hardly noticeable fleeting glances between the characters.

The story revolves around the poet Cecil Valance. His lovers, parents, admirers, literary biographers and critics are all equally fascinated by the enigmatic figure of the poet and his equally impenetrable poems. When Cecil comes to spend a weekend at “Two Acres” as a guest of his Cambridge friend George Sawle, he unintentionally ties the two families, the Sawles and the Valances, together for centuries to come. Through the novel, Cecil remains as the focal point of the story, but Daphne Sawle-Valance assumes an equally important role as the character who carries the family saga forward through the subsequent centuries. The intricately entangled family relationships have their starting point in that summer of 1913, when Daphne first meets Cecil. From there the story follows the lives of those who placed the charismatic young poet in the center of their lives. Social facades are torn down and the uncomfortable truths are revealed a generation later. A captivatingly narrated story about the breathtaking poetry of love, loss, sensitivity and sensuality.

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