Smart readers are divided over Alan Hollinghurst's ambitious fifth novel, The Stranger's Child [Kindle], covering one hundred years in the lives of several generations of people associated with a famous WWI poem. Written over a long weekend by fancy Cecil Valance in the autograph book of the precocious younger sister Daphne -- certain to call to mind Atonement's Briony -- of his college boyfriend George, the poem takes on different meanings in each successive era.
Reviews are full of the highest praise -- remarkable (nytbr), brilliant (wsj), magnificent (st), masterpiece (cpd), masterclass (tls), gorgeous (ct), perfect (ft) -- yet no one, including me, seems to feel it is Hollinghurst's very best work. A critic in the UK interrupted the book to argue that all English culture is built on gay culture. And Geoff Dyer wrote it "insists that our literary tradition would be unrecognizably depleted without the submerged current of homosexuality." One aspect of the novel that requires no parsing or deconstructing is Vintage's business-class travel brochure cover, in which the handholding is definitely misaligned.