Friday, May 18, 2012

Review: At Last by Edward St. Aubyn

At Last by Edward St. Aubyn -- British authors challenge

After having read the wonderful "Some Hope" trilogy by St. Aubyn, I decided to skip "Mother's Milk" and go straight to "At Last," in part because it came into the UA library in April. So I was sad to find that Patrick Melrose, clean in the last volume of "Some Hope," is now clean and sober, having married, had two wonderful sons, divorced and dried out from alcohol addiction. Now we come to the funeral of his mother, in parallel to "Bad News," which dealt with the death of Patrick's father and Patrick's truly outstanding drug addiction. Here Patrick is somewhat mellower, as he tries to deal with the very mixed feelings about his mother's death (he and his ex-wife come to see how the mother in fact collaborated in the abuse Patrick's father dealt to his own son and to other children) as well as his mother's decision to leave the beloved house in France to a kind of New Age cult. As with the previous three novels, St. Aubyn handles these deeply serious subjects with delicious black humor. One of his father's old friends, Nicholas Pratt, shows up, now totally engrossed in visiting dying friends and spreading his hilariously snobbish opinions around the funeral parlor. Several other characters ponder life and death according to their own perspectives, from a philosopher who had an affair with Melrose's wife to Melrose's impoverished and thieving aunt. Meanwhile, Melrose contemplates his recent rehabilitation; recalls his extremely complicated ancestry, which reaches back to early U.S. entrepreneurial wealth; considers picking up the waitress at the reception; and weighs his relationship with his boys. Although Melrose's innermost musings are somewhat obscure, the rest of the novel cuts like a Magic Chef knife; it is particularly enjoyable if you've read the previous novels, as several characters re-rear their very British heads.


Marlene Detierro said...

Glad to find out about this author! And hope thing smooth out soon in the classroom!

Marlene Detierro (Cash Advance For Business)

Micaella Lopez said...

Tremendous insight, wisdom, and, of course, hilarity to be found here. At last, Patrick is able to let go, to let be. Very optimistic . I wish him all the best.

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