Friday 4 January 2008

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

Everyone really liked The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I didn't.

The book group read it and they all really enjoyed the book. I didn't.

I thought maybe I had missed something and after having read Mr Haddon's second book it is entirely possible that I have.

A Spot of Bother is about a family in and around London who has more than their fair share of problems. Jean, the wife and mother, is having a protracted love affair with one of her husband's former work colleagues. George, her husband, has recently retired and is having a crisis as he faces his mortality and feels very much alone. Jamie, their homosexual son is struggling to find what and who he wants in a relationship and Katie, their daughter, is getting ready to marry a man she doesn't think she loves but who provides a stable and financially secure lifestyle to her and her son. She doesn't want to risk it all by not marrying him.

These are not all problems that couldn't be worked through. But this family doesn't talk and when they do talk it seems to be constricted by the British stiff upper lip and not wanting to intrude. Maintaining one's own privacy leads them nowhere and contributes to a very serious breakdown of the family.

Mr Haddon writes with a sharp wit and ugly grit. The novel is addictive and I couldn't put it down. It is a very quick read (finished in 3 days) and enjoyable.

OK, the ending is a bit tidy and happily ever after (which given the high dysfunction of the characters I find highly improbable). I also shudder to think that there are families out there who are so polite to one another that they could tumble to such a degree. I suppose its possible. I've seen just how far down a deep dark hole politeness can take you.

I am a big fan of saying what's on my mind. This novel validates that approach so as you can imagine, I loved it!

Maybe I should reread Curious Incident.......nah!

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