Monday, 23 December 2013

Mother's Milk by Edward St Aubyn

“He was finished as a man.”

I do so love the Patrick Melrose novels and appear to be flying through them. Why only yesterday, it seems Patrick was a small boy with a horrendous family life and now he has two boys of his own dealing with birth, a loss of inheritance and two strange beings known as their parents. Here we are with the 4th novel, nominated for a Man Booker Prize in 2006 and the times, well they appear to be changing.

Beginning with Robert’s rude awakening into the world, the entire novel serves as a sort of rude awakening of its own, but served up in a delectable fashion. Patrick seems a little adrift, he has lost his wife to full time motherhood and his family holiday home to a cult.

The steady decline of his mother brings its own wealth of black comedy. I felt guilty for laughing about the euthanasia suggestions – “signing and swallowing, those were the keys to the kingdom”. This fourth novel is somewhat of a trial to see how the torments of Patrick’s life will visit themselves upon his children and in many ways, Robert appears to bear the brunt of this responsibility. His all knowing abilities and position as narrator are an artifice that is nevertheless, employed to great effect.

I do so love a dysfunctional literary clan and can’t wait to read the final instalment.  I will miss the upheaval and beautiful prose.

5 out of 5 first children carry the heavy emotional loads.

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