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The Spell

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272 pages


Alan Hollinghurst's new novel is a comedy of sexual manners that follows the interlocking affairs of four men: Robin Woodfield, an architect in his late forties, who is trying to build an idyllic life in Dorset with his younger lover, Justin, a would-be actor increasingly disenchanted with the countryside; Robin's 22 year old son Danny, a volatile beauty who lives for clubbing and casual sex; and the shy Alex, whose life is transformed by house music and a tab of ecstasy. As each in turn falls under the spell of romance or drugs, country living or rough trade, a richly ironic picture emerges of the clashing imperatives of modern gay life, the hunger for contact and the fear of commitment, the need for permanence and the continual disruptions of sex. At once lyrical and farcical, sceptical and romantic, The Spell confirms Alan Hollinghurst as one of Britain's most important novelists.




'The Spell contains the most delicately sensuous portrait-painting...brilliant imagery...and hilarious cross-purpose jokes... Sentence by sentence the novel weaves its magic' - Independent. 'Alex is 36, something in the Foreign Office, discreetly gay...his ex-lover Justin invites him to a weekend in the Dorset village of Litton Gambril with his new boyfriend, forty-something architect Robin, and Robin's twenty-two-year-old gay son, Danny. Then Alex drops a tab of ecstasy, provided by young Danny, and embarks on a bewildering voyage of self-discovery in a drug-fuelled London club scene... A masterpiece of sustained literary titillation' - The Times. 'Love, lust and loss among a group of middle-class gay Englishmen... Young and old, the town and the country, the wild and respectable: Holinghurst explores each of these uneasy conflicts with wit, generosity and sharply observed comedy' - Mail on Sunday. 'Comic fantasy is grounded in a wealth of sharp observation and psychological insight. Hollinghurst has lost none of his authority' - Evening Standard



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