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I may have to write a much more lengthy and insightful review to capture the ways I love, admire and appreciate this book. But since there's no time for that right now, I would say this book is for anyone who loves language and wit, the thrill, empathy and occasional horror of interior monologues from diverse and well-drawn characters, the slow unfolding of a story from many perspectives, and a frequent urge to write down what feels like profound truths imparted along the way. The performance was perfect as well - Mr Jennings used distinct voices to bring each character to life. Highly recommended!
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
I wasn't intrigued enough until I saw this series of novels had been collected in one volume. I'm glad I read this semi-autobiographical pentalogy, published between 1992 and 2011, which delighted me in its subtle shaming of modern-day British aristocracy (in a way only a defiant member can) as much as it troubled in its expert examination of the enduring destruction of child abuse (both physical and mental).
Just to provide a short synopsis of each of the 5 novels herein (in order of publication):
NEVER MIND: Set in a mountain village in southeast France at the summer home of the protagonist Patrick when he was 5 years old. His dreadfully cruel father and meek alcoholic mother host several guests at a dinner party. Includes an incident of the lewd abuse of Patrick.
BAD NEWS: Patrick is now a 25-year-old heroin abuser in New York City to retrieve the ashes of his father over a 24-hour period. Includes probably the most accurate depiction of the mindset of a active drug addict I've ever read.
SOME HOPE: Set back in England a few years later, prior to and at a society party, also takes place over a single day. Patrick is trying to stay clean and shares his secret with his best friend. A mordant observation of the haughty, shallow and cruel nature of the British upper crust. Queen Elizabeth's sister, Prince Margaret, plays a large and largely unflattering role.
MOTHER'S MILK: This novel, unlike the first 3 and the last, all of which are set on a single day, occurs over several years. It's almost as long as the first 3 combined. Patrick's 2 sons are born. For most of it, he's a self-centered cad, drunk and on pain pills. His mother has given away most of Patrick's legacy to a spiritual guide (like Tolle').
AT LAST: Patrick's mom's funeral. St. Aubyn really takes a sardonic whip to aristocracy concentrated in the form of a snot named Nicholas Pratt and his mother's sister. Example: Patrick's uncle comments on the charitable and warm nature of Patrick's mother, "Eleanor was always concerned about other people." "That can be a good thing," Nicholas admitted, "depending on who those other people are."
I'm not sure that I'd give any of the 5 novels 5 stars, but as a collection they are definitely worth the price.
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