February 23

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Never Mind by Edward St Aubyn

I’m suspicious of the word “masterpiece” on the cover of a book. Just like the word miracle on a moisturiser, I should know better by now.

In this case I was persuaded by a trusted and highly enthusiastic assistant at one of my favourite bookshops. I don’t want to name names but I am pretty sure he described Never Mind as “brilliant”. I think this is a Margaret and David 5 star v 1 star standoff so perhaps “divisive” would have been a better word for this one.

Ok so yes the writing is interesting in that it’s mean, cutting and contemporary language applied to an almost Downton Abbey type setting and maybe there is something almost poetic about the short length of the story and the lack of detail but my god…the premise, the anguish, the characters and the utter waste of goodness did not stack up for me at all.

It is the first of 5 books which makes up the “Patrick Melrose series” with Patrick Melrose being the central child character in the story.  Maybe I need to read the other 4 books to find out where the whole “masterpiece” thing comes in but this book certainly did not stand on its own for me. It was like reading someone’s bitter therapy notes and with the greatest respect to the author (whose tormented life Patrick’s character is based on) there are other things I’d prefer to read….like Ikea manuals.

So if you are looking for a quick, literary read and are in the mood to help me get my head around this book, please read it. Equally if your book club is looking for a story to argue over, this one is sure to lift the volume in the room.

 

That’s just my 2 cents worth.