Edward St Aubyn: Missing out
If you haven't read any Edward St Aubyn yet, then you are seriously missing out on something very, very special.
I enjoyed it so much that I quickly pinched Some Hope and Mother's Milk from the office, the previous books in the 'Melrose Series', and devoured them before re-reading At Last.
Reading the series was one of the most pleasurable reading experiences I have enjoyed; St Aubyn writes with a typically English wit and the dialogue is astoundingly impressive.
The character of Robert, who we are introduced to in Mother's Milk, quickly became one of my favourite characters in fiction.
Now, of course I may appear to be a little biased, but in case you don't believe me, take a look at what people said about Some Hope and Mother's Milk...
‘Reminiscent of John Updike and Iris Murdoch by turns, the resulting comedy of manners, morals and existential angst is bitingly satirical and unfailingly entertaining’ Daily Mail
‘Mother’s Milk is so good – so fantastically well-written, profound and humane… Its minute-by-minute interior monologues, its foetid, man-in-a-crisis confusions bring Updike to mind, while its social set-pieces, its brittle, poised dialogue, are as fine as anything in the work of his friend, Alan Hollinghurst. But there is also a new sweetness here, and at times, particularly when he is writing about children, it is heart-stopping’ Observer
‘An extremely good comedy. Patrick’s world-weary outpourings… are remarkable for their wit. St Aubyn’s forte is the clever riposte and he is most effective when putting a fresh spin on stale sentiments… Mother’s Milk is a novel whose far-seeing insights and piercing humour make it a delight and occasionally an education to read’ Literary Review
‘Bafflingly denied the top prize at last year’s Booker, this is a must-read: sharp and big-hearted, for all the bleakness’ Evening Standard
‘Funny…. Wonderful…Edward St Aubyn is a class act’ Spectator
‘Mother's Milk begins with an extraordinary sequence in which a five-year-old recalls his own birth. It's brilliantly done, causing the reader to think afresh about the beginning of life. The novel is beautifully written and has real insight’ Mail on Sunday
'...Although St Aubyn takes a Jonsonian delight in satirically scourging the follies of charlatans and self-deceivers alike, beneath Patrick’s acid-bath witticisms and sculptured asides can be found a pointed study of the fault lines diving families and a humane meditation on lives blighted by the sins of the previous generation. The author...remains among the cream of British novelists’ Sunday Times
‘Edward St Aubyn’s self-lacerating, Tamazepam-guzzling follow-up to his Some Hope trilogy was a small triumph, and should have won the Booker’ Tim Martin, Independent on Sunday
‘Shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize, Mother’s Milk could well prove a breakthrough novel for Edward St Aubyn, a supremely polished stylist who has often been eclipsed by showier talents…The portrait of a dysfunctional upper-class family rings true in every particular… It is the dry humour underpinning the inch-perfect human observation which makes the writing so entertaining’ Sunday Telegraph
‘St Aubyn’s writing is spare, witty and original’ Wallpaper
‘A compulsively readable examination of the way dysfunction ricochets through the generations… mesmerisingly expressive… St Aubyn has created two of the most winsome and preternaturally articulate children in literature… Outstanding’ Guardian
‘A witty and at times touching portrait of family life’ Irish Times
‘Probably the finest prose stylist in the world… In this Booker-shortlisted effort, a sustained storyline and profound insights into how to avoid repeating the past in bringing up your children are combined with the usual stellar wit and beautiful words’ Oliver James
‘Edward St Aubyn was shortlisted for this year’s Booker because he combines an effortless, clever elegance with pitch-black humour and total immersion in the drama of the human heart. It is ludicrous that Mother’s Milk, a great side of beef of a novel, didn’t win. It is rich and bloody and English and everyone I know who’s read it joins me in asking why St Aubyn is not the world’s most famous man’ Melissa Katsoulis, Sunday Telegraph
‘My novel of the year is Mother’s Milk by Edward St Aubyn: a brilliant book about parenthood. It’s savage and moving, and if you ask me, he was robbed of the Booker Prize’ Rachel Cooke, New Statesman
‘Darkly comic… As a prose stylist, there are few to match him in recent fiction, and this absorbing novel shows him at the height of his powers’ The Times
‘A pure delight. It’s a caustically witty portrait of mid-life fear and self-loathing, complete with affairs, depression and drink. It’s also a touching portrayal of the miraculous bond between mother and child. St Aubyn has a slight tendency to veer into caricature, but it’s so funny, you don’t care’ Independent
That must have convinced you. Tell us what you thought by leaving a comment below.
I was introduced to St Aubyn when proofs of his latest novel, At Last, came into the office. I nabbed a copy and read it in one sitting (I normally hate it when people say that about books, but honestly, I did).