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The Sparsholt Affair - Alan Hollinghurst

The Sparsholt Affair - Alan Hollinghurst

Title: The Sparsholt Affair

Author:  Alan Hollinghurst

ISBN:  9781447208211

Weight:  979g

Signed first edition, first printing



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The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst

In 1940, Evert Dax and David Sparsholt, two young men from very different backgrounds, meet at Oxford University.  Dax is a second year student reading English, coming from a rackety upper middle class background; Sparsholt is from a humbler Midlands community and is reading engineering, a young man whose good looks and fine figure have proved highly attractive to his peers.

This time is a unique one in the history of the university: with military call-up at twenty, soon brought forward to nineteen, almost all students come up to Oxford knowing that they will only have a year or so of study.  A sense of futility is mixed with one of recklessness.  All life after dusk is lived under black-out, encouraging and covering what would normally be impossible liaisons.  What happens to these two men in this year will affect many lives and will set in motion the mystery at the heart of The Sparsholt Affair.

Alan Hollinghurst’s masterly novel takes us through several generations and across key periods of uncertainty and change in British society.  From the darkest days of the Second World War, it moves to the changing world of the a socially and sexually liberated London of the 1960s, before landing in the mid-1970s, with the three-day week, fuel shortages and power cuts.  The reverberations continue through the next generation in the 1990s before reaching a conclusion in the present decade, a world of new media and new ideas.

Throughout the novel there is also an examination of the visual and aesthetic, looking at what it is to be Modern, through modernist architecture and abstract painting: we witness buildings being destroyed and replaced; we watch works of art go in and out of fashion.

Featuring a remarkable cast of characters, The Sparsholt Affair is both thought-provoking and highly entertaining, a novel in which children are connected by the acts of their parents and individuals are both damaged and saved by the changing attitudes to sexuality, privacy and intimacy.

Peer & Press Reviews

Hollinghurst is a master storyteller… thrilling in the rather awful way that the best Victorian novels are, so that one finds oneself galloping somewhat shamefacedly through the pages in order to discover what happens next.

John Banville

Hollinghurst has a strong, perhaps unassailable claim to be the best English novelist working today.


Hollinghurst can make language do what he wants… It makes a lot of contemporary fiction seem thin and underachieving.

Evening Standard

Bibliographic Info

Attribute Details
Title: The Sparsholt Affair
Book Features
Edition / printing: First edition, first printing
Overall condition: Fine / Fine (see our article on Condition Grades)
Signed: On the title page
Book Stats
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Imprint: Picador
Publication date:
Printed by: CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon
ISBN 13: 9781447208211
ISBN 10: 1447208218
Format: Hardcover with dust jacket
Pages: 454
Size (h x w x d): 242 x 163 x 40mm
Image and Design Credits
Author photograph: Robert Taylor
Jacket photograph: Jeff Cottenden

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