The Stranger’s Child

Publisher: Vintage Canada

In the late summer of 1913, George Sawle brings his Cambridge schoolmate--a handsome, aristocratic young poet named Cecil Valance--to his family's modest home outside London for the weekend. George is enthralled by Cecil, and soon his sixteen-year-old sister, Daphne, is equally besotted by him and the stories he tells about Corley Court, the country estate he is heir to. But what Cecil writes in Daphne's autograph album will change their and their families' lives forever: a poem that, after Cecil is killed in the Great War and his reputation burnished, will become a touchstone for a generation, a work recited by every schoolchild in England. Over time, a tragic love story is spun, even as other secrets lie buried--until, decades later, an ambitious biographer threatens to unearth them. The Stranger's Child is a tour de force: a masterful novel about the lingering power of desire, how the heart creates its own history, and how legends are made.


She’d been lying in the hammock reading poetry for over an hour. It wasn’t easy: she was thinking all the while about George coming back with Cecil, and she kept sliding down, in small half-willing surrenders, till she was in a heap, with the book held tiringly above her face. Now the light was going, and the...
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1. Why did Alan Hollinghurst choose the title The Stranger’s Child?

2. The Stranger’s Child has an immense cast of memorable characters. Who is your favourite among the principal protagonists of each section of the book? Why? Who is your favourite minor character?

3. What are the...

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"One of the best, if not the best, works of literary fiction of 2011."
—Toronto Star

"Part social history, part social comedy and wholly absorbing, The Stranger's Child does everything a novel should do and makes it look easy."
—The Washington Post

"The most originally and brilliantly structured novel I've read in a long time."
—Julian Barnes, The Guardian

"Fresh and vital...wonderfully precise...steadily satisfying."
The New York Times Book Review