Folding Star, The
Folding Star, The by Allan Hollinghurst
Edward Manners -- thirty-three, dissafected, in the search of a new life -- has come to an ancient Flemish city to teach English. Almost at once he falls in love with one of his pupils, the seventeen-year-old Luc Altidore, recently expelled from school for some mysterious offence. Condemned to a mounting but incommunicable obsession with the boy, Edward becomes involved in affairs with two other men: one a heartless but seductive fraud, the other a young drifter with a deeply possessive streak.
Then Edward is introduced to the world of the enigmatic and reclusive Symbolist painter Edgard Orst. Gradually he is drawn towards an understanding of the artist's own obsession with a famous actress, drowned off Ostend at the turn of the century, and of the ambiguous circumstances of Orst's own death under Nazi Occupation.
The events of The Folding Star are played out amongst the silent streets and canals of a city that seems locked in the past, and across the northern landscape of the out-of-season resorts and abandoned houses that lies beyond. But in the central panel of the novel's triptych Edward returns home for a funeral, and is caught up in memories of his own late adolescence and his first love affair: an English pastoral already threatened by the experience of betrayal and loss.
For all its dark preoccupations, The Folding Star is infused with a subtle wit and exhilarating sense of the high comedy of infatuation and of the workings of sexual obsession. A compelling meditation on love and time, it is also a mystery story whose central enigma is unresolved until its very last lines. it will confirm Allan Hollinghurst as one of Britain's finest novelists.