After the huge impact of The Swimming Pool Library in the 80s, I have to admit that I struggled with Hollinghurst. I found a lot of his subsequent books chilly and impenetrable, and I really didn’t like The Line of Beauty at all. But The Stranger’s Child is a different matter altogether. It’s warm and engaging and it manages to sustain an engrossing narrative throughout some huge temporal jumps. What could have been a literary exercise ends up being a really moving meditation on ageing and memory and the ambiguous nature of art. All of which makes it sound as dull as ditchwater – and it’s anything but. A lot of people were sniffy about this book (‘Oh, it’s just a pastiche of Forster’ was one of my favourites) which I put down to jealousy. Obviously I’m a sucker for the period stuff, and anything that involves frustrated bank clerks poring over physique mags is going to work for me – but there’s so much more to The Stranger’s Child. For me it’s the outstanding novel of the last ten years.