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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The Line of Beauty was written by Alan Hollinghurst and published in 2004. It is a work of historical fiction and is set in London’s gay scene in the early 1980s.

Nick Guest

Nick Guest is the principal character and the narrator. The novel begins when he is twenty years of age. Nick is a handsome, intelligent, middle-class man who has just graduated from Oxford with a degree in English. He is planning to start a PhD in literature at University College, London, concentrating on the study of Henry James. Following his graduation, he moves in with Rachel and Gerald Feddens, the parents of one of his Oxford peers, Toby Feddens. The Feddens are a rich family, and Nick enjoys being a part of their inner circle. Although he is accepted by them, he still struggles with finding his place in society. He is also struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. Although he came out as gay at Oxford, he is still to have sex.

Toby Feddens

Toby (Tobias) Feddens, Nick’s friend from Oxford, is the son of Rachel and Gerald Feddens. Like Nick, he is handsome and clever. He graduates from Oxford with a degree in politics, philosophy, and economics and dreams of becoming a journalist. Nick has always fancied Toby, but Toby does not notice.

Rachel Feddens

Rachel Feddens is the wife of Gerald Feddens and mother to Toby and Cat. She is a beautiful and sophisticated woman who comes from a wealthy family. She is a good wife, supportive of her husband and children, and is very caring toward Nick. In turn, Nick respects her.

Gerald Feddens

Gerald Feddens, husband of Rachel and father of Toby and Cat, is a very political man. He is in his early fifties and is an MP for the Conservative Party. He has a framed photograph of Margaret Thatcher next to one of his wife. He takes care of himself physically and is generally competitive. Although upper-class, he is not as cultured or as sophisticated as his wife.

Cat Feddens

Cat (Catherine) Feddens is Toby’s sister. She has bipolar disorder and struggles with self-harm but doesn’t always take her medication, and she often speaks the truth when nobody else does. She rebels against her father, smokes, takes drugs, sleeps with a string of men, and is rude to her parents’ friends. Nick is relied upon to look after Cat, and she trusts him.

Wani Ouradi

Wani (Antoine) Ouradi was born in Beirut and studied at Oxford with Nick. He is a friend of Toby Feddens. Wani is engaged to a French girl, but after graduation he begins a relationship with Nick. He comes from a wealthy Lebanese family and enjoys a profligate lifestyle. He eventually contracts AIDS.

Leo Charles

Leo Charles, a black man who is slightly older than Nick, is Nick’s first sexual relationship and his first love. They meet when Nick reads a personal ad written by Leo. He has not told his religious family that he is gay. At the end of the novel, Nick learns that Leo has died of AIDS.

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