I had low expectations of this book. It has the word 'beautiful' in the title and that's never a good sign. Oh oh, I think. Alan Hollinghurst again. Two hours of tooth gritting boredom while my inner PC policeperson tells me I'm only hating this because of all the gay sex.Happily, Edmund White isn't Alan Hollinghurst. He has a far lighter touch, by which I mean he doesn't attempt to make points. He just writes about himself and does it beautifully. There isn't much of a story, but I didn't feel the lack of it, just like a Caravaggio is still a masterpiece even if it doesn't have a frame. The only section where White falls down is when he talks about his sister in the closing chapters. He hits a wooden note here and I'm not sure why. Maybe as he says himself, he never really understood her and it shows.