George Hall doesn't understand the modern obsession with talking about everything. 'The secret of contentment, George felt, lay in ignoring many things completely.' Some things in life, however, cannot be ignored.
At 57, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement, building a shed in his garden, reading historical novels, listening to a bit of light jazz. Then Katie, his tempestuous daughter, announces that she is getting remarried, to Ray. Her family is not pleased, as her brother Jamie observes, Ray has 'strangler's hands'. Katie can't decide if she loves Ray, or loves the wonderful way he has with her son Jacob, and her mother Jean is a bit put out by all the planning and arguing the wedding has occasioned, which get in the way of her quite fulfilling late-life affair with one of her husband's former colleagues. And the tidy and pleasant life Jamie has created crumbles when he fails to invite his lover, Tony, to the dreaded nuptials. Unnoticed in the uproar, George discovers a sinister lesion on his hip, and quietly begins to lose his mind.
The way these damaged people fall apart, and come together, as a family is the true subject of Mark Haddon's disturbing yet very funny portrait of a dignified man trying to go insane politely.
©2006 Mark Haddon; (P)2006 Random House
"No bother at all, this comic follow-up to Haddon's blockbuster (and nicely selling book of poems) is great fun." (Publishers Weekly)
"Magically, Mark Haddon presents mental illness not merely as deeply moving, but funny, and the family¿s eventual healing is heart-warming but done without sentimentality. It¿s all helped by Alex Jennings¿ understated narration, as unassuming and ordinary as George and his family, but, like them, outstanding". (The Observer)
One man's descent into insanity, surrounded by his dysfunctional family, provides a commentary on hopes, dreams, relationships and owning up to one's own secrets. Written with humour and narrated superbly, this kept me on the edge of my seat as surely as any thriller.
Though not as clever as the author's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime, it is neverthess a rollicking saga of family dysfunction full of larger than life incidents centred around a wedding. The story reminded me of Alan Ackbourne farces in that it mixes humour with painful human experiences.
I enjoyed the book enhanced by the excellent perforemance by Alex Jennings: a master of creating different voices
Such a nice range of interesting characters, really engaging story. Listened to on the train and embarrassed myself many times by laughing very heartily out loud. Thank you Mark Haddon, I LOVED this book!
I found this book funny and entertaining. It was very well narrated and I found myself wanting to get back to it at every opportunity.
If I have one negative thing to add, it would be the overly descriptive sexual encounters. I don't think it was necessary and added nothing to the story. Such a shame as I would have recommended this book to other family members.
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