The Swimming Pool Library

by Alan Hollinghurst | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: Global Overview for this book
Registered by Cathryn88 of Derby, not specified not specified on 8/27/2005
Buy from one of these Booksellers: | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | Amazon DE | Amazon FR | Amazon IT |
20 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Cathryn88 from Derby, not specified not specified on Saturday, August 27, 2005
I did have high hopes for this book as had seen it have good reviews. It was OK at the beginning but I just lost interest about half way in.

Journal Entry 2 by Cathryn88 at on Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Released 14 yrs ago (8/30/2005 UTC) at



I am releasing this book to fellow BookCrosser zzz in Serbia via Royal Mail.

Journal Entry 3 by zzz from Rakovica, City of Belgrade Serbia on Tuesday, September 06, 2005
I came back today from little trip out of town and the book was waiting for me (safe and sound).
"The Swimming Pool Library" will be the first novel by Alan Hollinghurts that I'll read and just like Cathryn, so do I have high hopes for this book thanks to the same reasons...we'll see if epilogue will be the same.
Cathryn thank you so much indeed!

*** The first major novel in Britain to put gay life in its modern place and context ... A historic novel and historic debut -- Guardian

*** Deserves first prize in every category ... superbly written, wildly funny -- Daily Telegraph

*** Beautifully welds the standard conventions of fiction to a tale of modern transgression. It tells of impurities with shimmering elegance, of complexities with a camp-fired wit and of truths with a fiction's solid grace -- New York Times Book Review

Finished. Well, I would lie if I tell I wasn't in shock while reading this book. This is first gay novel I've ever read and that's why I was very interested in it. Especially after so fabulous reviews which "The Swimming-Pool Library" has. Actually I"m not sure what kind of story I expected, maybe some story about homosexual relationship like in movie "Philadelphia" (with or without AIDS). "Philadelphia"? Ha, ha! comparing with this book even Almodovar with his movies is a little kid. This is SO different!
Hollinghurst is writing without any barrier, his vocabulary is sharp and totally naked; he doesn't hesitate to use right word and right verb. This is book without euphemisms. I've read certain parts to my friend and he asked me "How can you read this pornography?" and indeed it is (first part) on the very final border of pornography and so-called "serious literature" so I guess it is truth that this is quite brave novel. Sometimes I had to close this book and take a deep breath before I continue reading.
So, first (dark) part of the novel was "difficult" for me with all those aggressive explicit sexual scenes and equal life style. But then later I've realized the point of such describing. It is fabulous (although sometimes hard for digest) picture of one way of living and it was necessary for bypassing mental abyss of main character.
Now, I'm not sure how much truth there is in this novel? I mean it's little hard to believe that this kind of (homo) sexual supermarket exist. Even in London. Then also it changed my perspective about gay relationships with such an enormous lasciviousness.

OK to end this journal, this book is definitely not for everyone but at the end I could say that I'm very glad that I've read it. It is one nice parallel between gay life in the past and the present time (which is more-less the same) but especially parallel between attitude of public society and government then and now and accepting existence of gay population.
This is good book; yes sometimes shocking but then that could often be a compliment :-)
So 7 stars!
(and by the way: this book has one of the most original cover arts I've ever seen!)

This is Alan Hollinghurst!

Journal Entry 4 by zzz at on Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Released 14 yrs ago (10/4/2005 UTC) at



Welcome to "The Swimming-Pool Library" International Book-Ring!

The Ring is underway as of 4th October 2005.

Mailing list:

1. Piggeldy, Weinstadt - Germany (read and released)
2. -BookHaven-, Porto - Portugal (read and released)
3. CatharinaL, Tampere - Finland (read and released)
4. SudoKris, St Andrews - UK (read and released)
5. marie-therese, Glasgow - UK (read and released)
6. Sterile, Burnley - UK (read and released)
7. arturogrande, Coalville - UK (read and released)
8. Xanthe-pup, Cardiff - UK (read and released)
9. flambard, Horsham - UK (read and released)
10. janey-canuck, Ontario - Canada (read and released)
11. Oldbroad, Washington - USA (read and released)
12. fungirl503, Oregon - USA (read and released)
13. quinnsmom, California - USA (read and released)
14. laurarn, Oklahoma - USA (read and released)
15. nicolesinger, North Carolina - USA (read and released)
16. buffra, West Virginia - USA (read and released)
17. wyldewomin, Massachusetts - USA (asked to be skipped)
18. jherusalem, Virginia - USA (asked to be skipped)
19. mirp, Dublin - Ireland (read and released)

Oct 10th book has arrived to zzz and the ring is completed

- Please make a journal entry when you receive the book, enjoy, and after reading please do share your thoughts about it with others.
- When you're ready to release the book, send a PM to the next person on the list asking for her/his address and please journal when you mail it out -- that way, everyone will know the book's approximate location.
- If you don't think you'll be able to read this book within a reasonable time of receipt, please let me know before it's mailed to you, and I'll be happy to move your name down the list.
- Please try to not keep it longer than six weeks. Thanks!

Safe voyage!!!

Journal Entry 5 by Piggeldy from Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg Germany on Saturday, October 15, 2005
The book arrived here safely! Just have to finish "The 2nd Summer Of The Sisterhood", because I cannot read two foreign-language books at a time... :-( I hope to be able to send the book on within a month; looks thin, but is printed in very small letters.

Edit, November 15th 2005: I'll send the book on, but I've only read half of it - it's simply printed too small (though I always thought my eyes were quite good) :-(
But the story (so far) is very interesting - I'll buy my own copy some day (maybe in German, I don't know yet) and then finish reading it!

Released 14 yrs ago (11/12/2005 UTC) at BookRing in -- Per Post geschickt/ Persönlich weitergegeben --, Baden-Württemberg Germany



I get my own copy via Ebay :-)

Journal Entry 7 by -BookHaven- on Thursday, November 17, 2005
it's with me, sound and safe. thanks a lot!

Journal Entry 8 by -BookHaven- on Monday, December 12, 2005
í'm not so sure about this depiction about gay life. maybe i'm a prude!
i just don't think there is a need for this "gay supermarket" as zzz puts it anymore, but as i'm straight, who knows?

anywhay, i had a strange dream while reading it, so, maybe it was worth it...

i'm sending it today to CatarinaL.

thanks a lot for sharing!

Journal Entry 9 by CatharinaL from Pirkkala, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Monday, December 19, 2005
The book arrived today--thanks so much for sending (BookHaven) and organizing (zzz)! I'll get to reading this over Christmas. It should be interesting enough :-)

Oh, and while I'm at it: Hyvää Joulua...Merry Christmas...Feliz Natal...Hristos se rodi!

Journal Entry 10 by CatharinaL from Pirkkala, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Wednesday, December 21, 2005
OK, I confess I enjoyed what a big turn-on this book was :-) At first I was troubled by the overwhelming effect, though, since I suspected the explicit scenes were intentionally masking weaknesses of plot (yes, the easy way: interfering with objectivity). But no: every detail was carefully structured; the rhythm of alternating scenes from sexy & cute to brutally explicit, from the past to the present, was excellent; and the witty & beautiful style was suggestively reminiscent of Wilde and Genet. Also, similarly to Wilde, there was plenty of poignant social commentary involved! This was very good, extraordinary writing, and it allowed room for contemplating the ideas. Impossible to read at one go, though.

This was a book about lifestyle, not in the least about orientation. To be more precise, a book about a lifestyle, the stereotypical gay world. The gay world is a parallel world that exists alongside the mainstream culture, but which most straight people either fail to see or pretend not to see. This was a boundary-breaking voyeuristic peak into the 'invisible', and undoubtedly a major milestone for both the straight and the gay communities when first published in 1988! An epic display of gay culture and erotica, a firework show of cultural history, covering the centuries and decades of gay subculture and all of its stereotypes: the idolatry of youth, rampant party-animal promiscuity, fetishistic power play, gay idols, camp culture with all of its distortions and exaggerations. I saw the book as a self-conscious insider narrative, a culture and its stereotypics defined and described from the inside. I imagine quite a similar thing would be calling people 'queer': you can't do that while you're on the outside, but when you're in, everybody's queer as hell and the negative turns into a positive thing. Consequently, what troubled me about the insider narrative is that I didn't quite know when to laugh and when not to. I'm also sure I missed many allusions or trigger words just because I'm not a gay male. In terms of the exclusiveness of a subculture, I almost felt like Eve expelled from Paradise!

For me, any 'shock value' intended arose from the problem of accepting such a hedonistic lifestyle. I'm not sure to what extent the book exaggerated the deliberately subversive lifestyle and the manifestations and celebrations of homosexuality... to the pleasure and amusement of the readers with insight and to the shock and awe of others, of course :-) What seemed to surface was an image of daydream gay life, Will being an unrealistic caricature of the privileged few whose only purpose in life is to seek personal pleasure. I guess such a 'Dorian Gray-ish' character was necessary for the structure of the novel, though: Will's adventures in the wonderland enabled the versatility of details and fragments of the multi-form gay culture. Also, the development and maturing of Will's character during the latter part of the book was essential for a deeper analysis of the insider bubble. Meanwhile, the framework of a gay community and underground culture itself seemed to be rather truthfully described: a complete exclusive world in which one is 100% accepted, nobody has to fight against 'public opinion' or claim recognition for who they are, never being reproached or abused for their behaviour... but also a tightly-knit brotherhood/gossip/solidarity network.

As to the symbolism, a light-weight underwater existence and the subculture & easy living were nicely paired up. A pool has its shallow end and the deep end. At the extreme shallow end, 'a swimming-pool library' = a place to freely pick up and borrow boys... I know I'll never be able to use the word 'library' in quite the same way again :-) The cover design is just brilliant and sooo suggestive of what's to be expected inside. The scarlet trunks... the very image of a subculture: you fail to see it if you have no idea, but once it's revealed to you, everything's just in-your-face obvious...

I'm in the mood for some 1980s Pet Shop Boys now :-) Maybe I'll choose the album Behaviour or Introspective... Got to love the lyrics!

Journal Entry 11 by CatharinaL from Pirkkala, Pirkanmaa / Birkaland Finland on Wednesday, December 28, 2005
The book is on its way to SudoKris!

Journal Entry 12 by SudoKris from Lathones, Scotland United Kingdom on Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Finally got here. Thanks a lot!

Finally finished The Swimming-Pool Library. It took me a while to get into it, but in the end I did like it; even though at times it felt like a Colm Tóibín novel gone wrong... Anyway, quite enjoyable!

Will send on asap!

Journal Entry 13 by marie-therese from Kirkintilloch, Scotland United Kingdom on Saturday, February 18, 2006
Book arrived safely in Kirkintilloch this morning from SudoKris in St Andrews, thanks for sending it and thanks to zzz for sending it out on a ring. I've 1 and 1/2 books in front of it but will definately read it within the 6 weeks.

Journal Entry 14 by marie-therese from Kirkintilloch, Scotland United Kingdom on Monday, March 20, 2006
I've been trying in vain for 2 weeks now to get into this book, I hate giving up on any book but it's just not working for me. I'm not particularly shocked by the contents, I just doon't relate to the characters and I don't particularly like Hollinghurst's writing style. Will PM Sterile and get it on its way again.

Thanks Cathryn88 for sending it out on a ring.

Journal Entry 15 by marie-therese from Kirkintilloch, Scotland United Kingdom on Thursday, March 23, 2006
Posted to Sterile today.

Journal Entry 16 by marie-therese from Kirkintilloch, Scotland United Kingdom on Thursday, March 23, 2006
Posted to Sterile today.

Journal Entry 17 by Sterile from Burnley, Lancashire United Kingdom on Friday, March 24, 2006
Arrived safe and well today! My first immpression of the book is the print face, it's tiny! I might have problems with eye strain reading something so small even with my specs on! I must be getting old 'cos nobody else has journaled about this.. Will give it a go and see.


Releasing to the next member on the list - Arturogrande. April 3rd 2nd Class mail.

Journal Entry 19 by arturogrande from Coalville, Leicestershire United Kingdom on Sunday, April 09, 2006
It's arrived - thanks very much to everyone involved in getting the ring to me! I read 'The Line of Beauty' and loved it, so I'm looking forward to this one.

Journal Entry 20 by arturogrande from Coalville, Leicestershire United Kingdom on Sunday, May 07, 2006
This is such a powerful, beautifully written novel - even better than The Line of Beauty, I think.
I knew what to expect, having read Hollinghurst before, so I wasn't surprised or shocked by the explicit descriptions of gay sex. They are central to the novel and to the undestanding of Will Beckwith's character.
CatharinaL's journal entry is spot-on, and I don't think I can add anything to better describe the book and the author's intentions.
After this, I'm putting Hollinghurst's other novels - The Folding Star and The Spell - onto my wish list.
Thanks very much, zzz, for sharing this. It's now on its way to Xanthe-pup.

Journal Entry 21 by Xanthe-pup from Cardiff, Wales United Kingdom on Saturday, June 10, 2006
Oh no! I just found this book on my shelf - unjournaled! I know I have had it for quite some time - please, please accept my apologies. Life has gotten in the way of just about all my reading/BC activities recently, so I never spared a though for this borrowed book sitting there, forgotten...

I will read and send on in the next couple of weeks. Once again, sorry.

Journal Entry 22 by Xanthe-pup from Cardiff, Wales United Kingdom on Wednesday, June 21, 2006
Nope, I can't do this. I have been carrying this book round since my last journal entry (10 days ago?) and haven't managed to read more than 10 pages. Not because I don't like it - but I just don't have the time. Sorry. I will post it on to Flambard today with sincere regrets.

Journal Entry 23 by Flambard from Horsham, West Sussex United Kingdom on Friday, June 30, 2006
It's arrived in sunny (in fact boiling) Horsham! Many thanks!

Journal Entry 24 by Flambard from Horsham, West Sussex United Kingdom on Monday, July 10, 2006
Oooer. What a disappointment. Was there a plot of any kind? Or was it just a list of sexual exploits tenuously linked by a handful of characters? Just when you thought it might get interesting (eg Arthur's drugs, Phil's philandering, the 'unexpected' [not] revelation about Lord B) it didn't go anywhere or do anything with it. The main character, Will, was a shallow, hypocritical waster, with a thin veneer of education and looks which made him feel superior to anything else on two legs - not nice. And the ending was too, too weak. If Hollinghurst had wanted a decent story he should have written about James, the doctor character. Still, there were some funny one-liners, but not enough to save the storyline. Ready to pass on now!

Journal Entry 25 by Flambard at mail in mail, a postal release -- Controlled Releases on Thursday, July 13, 2006

Released 13 yrs ago (7/13/2006 UTC) at mail in mail, a postal release -- Controlled Releases



On its way to Ontario!

Journal Entry 26 by janey-canuck from Guelph, Ontario Canada on Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Arrived today, thanks!

Journal Entry 27 by janey-canuck from Guelph, Ontario Canada on Sunday, July 30, 2006
This was okay... I think I was expecting more from it, though. I found that a lot of things were introduced but never really resolved. I have to agree with most of the others here - it had a weak plot masked by a lot of sex. I did skip over a lot of the explicit passages (sorry, that just doesn't do it for me) and maybe since I did this, I lost the whole point of the book.

It was okay, it wasn't great. And now, it is off to the next reader.

Journal Entry 28 by Oldbroad from Grapeview, Washington USA on Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Received from janey-canuck in Ontario. Have one book to finish but will get to this one next.

Journal Entry 29 by Oldbroad from Grapeview, Washington USA on Saturday, September 09, 2006
Sending on today to fungirl503 in Oregon. Will post review tomorrow.

Journal Entry 30 by Oldbroad from Grapeview, Washington USA on Monday, September 11, 2006
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I see it as a very well written coming of age story with nice contrasts between the sexual freedom of gay life in the 70's and the closeted yearnings of gays at an earlier period.

As for the sex scenes, I didn't find them all that explicit and I don't think any heterosexual who was around in the 60's and 70's will find the sexual excess surprising.

I want to compliment CatharinaL on her excellent review - one of the best I've seen on Bookcrossing.

The book is in the mail to fungirl503 and should arrive early this week.

Journal Entry 31 by fungirl503 from Portland, Oregon USA on Monday, September 11, 2006
got the book today..almost done reading another book and will start with this one next

Journal Entry 32 by fungirl503 from Portland, Oregon USA on Monday, September 11, 2006
the sexual scences did not bother me at all. I thought infact the book would had more of it.
I like the way charles is explaining the water bath that they have come across that is all dried up. In the spring the water used to come through the gravel and clay and fill the water bath up.
this book is going to the next person on the list and I will pm them right now for their address

Journal Entry 33 by fungirl503 at -- By Hand or Post, Ray/ring, Rabck in Portland, Oregon USA on Monday, September 11, 2006

Released 13 yrs ago (9/11/2006 UTC) at -- By Hand or Post, Ray/ring, Rabck in Portland, Oregon USA



quinnsmom is next

Journal Entry 34 by quinnsmom from Hobe Sound, Florida USA on Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Well! This little guy has had an adventure! I emailed fungirl503 too late with my new address (my apologies) and it got sent to California instead. It did find its way here, so I'll give it a quick read & get it out so that it's not held up for any more time.

Thanks for including me...I've been wanting to read this for a while.

Journal Entry 35 by quinnsmom from Hobe Sound, Florida USA on Wednesday, November 01, 2006
my apologies for not having finished this sooner.

Alan Hollinghurst is truly a fine writer, and to do this book justice, I think a person would need to reread it. I won't rehash the plot here, but I must say that I couldn't put this book down once I'd started it. I plan on buying my own copy and starting it all over again so that I can pick up any nuances I may have missed. Don't give up on it...keep reading, because it all makes total sense at the end.

Thanks for including me; I am really happy I was able to read this book. I thought it was quite well written and that the twist in the plot was magnificent.

Journal Entry 36 by quinnsmom from Hobe Sound, Florida USA on Wednesday, November 08, 2006
just an fyi that the book left today for Tulsa (for laurarn). Thanks again!

Journal Entry 37 by amoenus from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma USA on Monday, November 13, 2006
REcieved in the mail today, will finish Grapes of Wrath tonight and begin this tomorrow.

Journal Entry 38 by amoenus from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma USA on Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Very interesting writing. An twist on erotica I haven't experienced before. Not as daring as I had expected. But not dissapointing. Thanks for sharing. I am PM'ing next in line.

Journal Entry 39 by nicolesinger from Newport, North Carolina USA on Tuesday, January 09, 2007
It's here. Great timing - I send the previous bookring on tomorrow morning. I am in the middle of another book, but expect to be done within a day or two and able to tackle this.

I'm glad I signed up for it - previous journal entries have me intrigued. The print *is* awfully tiny though...

Thanks, zzz and laurarn (and all the BCers before and in between!)

Journal Entry 40 by nicolesinger from Newport, North Carolina USA on Monday, January 15, 2007
The print WAS tiny, that's for sure. The sex wasn't shocking to me - but was quite shocking considering this was released as a mainstream novel in the 1980s! It was pretty steamy, though.

The main character - wow. Could he have been more self-involved? Even when he's talking about his friends' and lovers' troubles, somehow it's ALL about him and how HE felt about their problems. He jumps anything with three legs, and then gets bent out of shape when one of his lovers steps out on him. And yet somehow I couldn't dislike him - I just shook my head and thanked my lucky stars *I'm* not one of his "friends".

My one complaint - the end. What, exactly, was this book about? Just when I thought it was going nowhere, things started to tie together - and then it stopped. There were some things I would have liked more info on. Or maybe the point was that Beckwith didn't care enough to follow up on them. In my opinion, trying not to give spoilers, it should have ended later (with a little more wrapping up) or earlier (shortly after Beckwith made a shocking discovery). On the other hand, this was a first novel and otherwise extremely well-written, so I suppose it's not fair to come down too hard on it.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. I've PMed for buffra's address.

Journal Entry 41 by nicolesinger from Newport, North Carolina USA on Monday, January 22, 2007
Well, it took me long enough... Buffra PMed me her address last week, but all week I had either enough money to send the book, or enough time to get to the post office - but never both at once! Sorry for the delay. The post office is two blocks away from the college, so I'll be mailing this right after my early afternoon class.

I think I may have realized something that makes the end a bit clearer, but I still think it's the weakest part of the book. It really could have been clearer. Perhaps I'm just being fussy - that's what participating in a critique group will do to you. It was well done, anyway, and I'll keep a lookout for Hollinghurst's other work.

Journal Entry 42 by buffra from Columbus, Ohio USA on Friday, June 01, 2007

This book showed up in my mail, looking a bit tattered, but OK. I have no idea what happened to it -- the postman said something about a jam in the processing machine, but he wasn't sure.

Anyway, it's here now. Thanks!

I think I'll pass it on pretty quickly. I tried to read another Hollinghurst and really couldn't get very far, so I'll see about sending it on ASAP.

Journal Entry 43 by buffra from Columbus, Ohio USA on Sunday, June 24, 2007
I haven't even had a chance to TRY to read this one, so I'm going to pass it on. Wyldewomin and jherusalem both passed due to busy-ness as well, so I've PM'd mirp. I'll try to mail it before leaving town, otherwise I will do it after I'm home again. (which won't be until after July 15th)

Journal Entry 44 by buffra from Columbus, Ohio USA on Monday, June 25, 2007
Mailed before leaving town!

Journal Entry 45 by rem_BSM-942247 on Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Arrived safely in Ireland. I'll start it asap. Thanks for including me in this ring.

Journal Entry 46 by rem_BSM-942247 on Friday, September 28, 2007
will be posted back to Serbia on Monday. Thanks for sharing this book with me.

Journal Entry 47 by zzz from Rakovica, City of Belgrade Serbia on Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Ring is completed after two years (and 6 days) of traveling!
Thank you all for participating :)

PS If someone is interested in reading Hollinghurst's "Spell" (I have "Folding Star" but is on my TBR pile and "The Line of Beauty" as well) feel free to e-mail me :)

Journal Entry 48 by zzz from Rakovica, City of Belgrade Serbia on Tuesday, November 20, 2007
This book is continuing its journey... on the other side of the Atlantic.

Journal Entry 49 by msjoanna from Columbia, Missouri USA on Thursday, December 06, 2007
How nice to get such a well-traveled little book! I'm looking forward to reading it. I have a couple of Hollinghurst books on my TBR pile now, but this one may be the first that I read as I'll be excited to come back and read through all the JEs above me once I've read the book.

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