The Complete Patrick Melrose Novels
Edward St. Aubyn, the Complete Patrick Melrose Novels: Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, Mother's Milk, and At Last, (New York: Picador), 2012.
A sabbatical is a good time to tackle a series of five novels by the same author. This volume made it easy to follow the confused and sometimes confusing life of a privileged British man as he confronts his history, makes all kinds of mistakes, fails to live up to his potential and generally makes a mess of everything. He isn't the first in the privileged history of his family to make enormous mistakes. The victim of childhood abuse by his father, he struggles to reconcile his father's public image with the terrible truth that he knows. His mother's strange and expensive passions after her divorce threaten the financial future of his family - a family that is the product of a combination of a wasted youth and the resolution not to pass down the violence that he inherited.
All in all these are very well written novels with engaging, though not always likable, characters well worth a summer's read. Although the books stand well on their own, there is an advantage to reading them all at once. The completeness of the story that they tell is memorable and compelling. St. Aubyn is an author worth watching for other significant books.