17 April 2012

Today's Imprint Read: Never Mind by Edward St. Aubyn

How would you cope if you were five years old and living with a cruel, sadistic father (David) and a down-beaten, alcoholic mother (Eleanor)? As you can imagine, young Patrick Melrose has some rough years ahead. In a series of short novels, starting with Never Mind (1992) and ending with At Last (U.S. publication 2012), Edward St. Aubyn focuses on specific, significant moments in Patrick's life. These events reveal not only Patrick's struggles and triumphs but some of the less savory characteristics of the British upper class.

[T]o Eleanor, David had seemed so different from the tribe of minor English snobs and distant cousins who hung around, ready for an emergency, or for a weekend, full of memories that were not even their own, memories of the way their grandfathers had lived, which was not in fact how their grandfathers had lived. When she had met David, she thought that he was the first person who really understood her. Now he was the last person she would go to for understanding. It was hard to explain this change and she had tried to resist the temptation of thinking that he had been waiting all along for her money to subsidize his fantasies of how he deserved to live. Perhaps, on the contrary, it was her money that had cheapened him. He had stopped his medical practice soon after their marriage. At the beginning, there had been talk of using some of her money to start a home for alcoholics. In a sense they had succeeded. (p. 7)
Never Mind by Edward St. Aubyn (from The Patrick Melrose Novels; Picador USA, 2012)

Quick Facts (Never Mind)
  • Setting: southern France, the family home
  • Circumstances: the day five-year-old Patrick loses his innocence
  • Characters: the Melroses (Eleanor, David, Patrick) and dinner guests
  • Themes: alcoholism, abuse, social class expectations, upper-class manners and behavior
  • Genre: fiction with a strong autobiographical element

Quick Facts (the series)

  • Setting: New York, England, France
  • Circumstances: Patrick as a child, as a young man, as a husband and father, as a son
  • Themes: addiction, recovery, family, adultery, parenthood, family saga
  • Genre: fiction (with a strong element of autobiography)
  • Awards: the fourth novel, Mother's Milk, was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize
Want to Know More? The Patrick Melrose Novels is an anthology of the first four books in the series. Visit the Picador website to find the book summary, reviews, and a reading guide. To learn more about author Edward St. Aubyn visit his website and don't miss the articles published in the Telegraph and in the New York Times. For more on Picador and for news about events and great books, visit their website, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.


Laurie C 4/17/12, 6:35 AM  

The quotation you chose does make me want to read these, but so many books is such a commitment! I haven't read the final book in the Cazalet Chronicle by Elizabeth Howard yet. I love a family saga that spans the generations, but they tend to be so long!

bermudaonion 4/17/12, 7:48 AM  

Don't ask me why, but I'm strangely drawn to books like this, especially when there's an autobiographical element involved.

Amber 4/17/12, 8:08 AM  

Sounds like such a great read. I am definitely going to have to put this on the list!

Laurel-Rain Snow 4/17/12, 9:32 AM  

I really love books about these issues....they draw me in. I hadn't heard of this series, but now it's going on my list.

Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

The Brazen Broads 4/17/12, 9:34 AM  

These sound like emotional reads, Beth. Are they complex and involved reads - or more quick paced? Just curious.
I checked out your other blog and like the idea of hosting a linky list with a gathering of readers posting links to reviews of the same book! Way to offer readers searching for new reads some diversity in opinion.

Beth F 4/17/12, 9:41 AM  

@BrazenBroads: The anthology of the first four novels is only 680 pages, which means that each book averages only about 170 pages. So in that sense they go quickly. They are not complex but definitely intense. Once you start reading, it's hard to stop.

Stepping Out of the Page 4/17/12, 10:17 AM  

New to your blog! I love the way that you've set out this post. Really to the point and easy to read. The book sounds interesting and so I'll have to check it out. :)

Stephanie @ Stepping Out of the Page
P.S. Don't forget to enter my latest giveaway!

Lisa-Marie Jordan 4/17/12, 10:49 AM  

That sounds like an interesting book!

Zibilee 4/17/12, 11:58 AM  

Oh, that is a really great quote, and this sounds like something that I would like to read. Thanks for sharing this, I will be looking for the book!

Heather 4/17/12, 12:39 PM  

Those last two sentences are especially gripping. My teaser: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford.

Nise' 4/17/12, 1:37 PM  

I am like Kathy, drawn to these kind of books.

Yvonne 4/17/12, 11:12 PM  

This sounds really interesting and very intense.

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