Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon - Book Review by: Lezah Williamson

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I was recently given the novel A Spot of Bother. It was written by Mark Haddon, who also penned one of my favourite books of the last few years, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. While 'The Curious Incident...' is written from the perspective of an autistic teen, 'A Spot of Bother' parachutes us into the late mid-life crisis of George, a recently retired Englishman whose wife is having an affair, whose daughter is about to marry a most 'unsuitable' man, and whose gay son is about to 'come out' to the family's friends and neighbours.

If you were expecting both novels to have the same sort of tone, think again: although I have seen 'A Spot of Bother' described as a comedic book, I found it anything but. The tone was very serious, the protagonist very disturbed, and the situation very usual. The story takes you into the mind of someone who thinks he is losing his own; is it stress, or Alzheimer's, or is he correct in his perceptions after all?

The author also looks at the still-remaining class structure in Britain, where certain levels of society view themselves as being better than others. George's wife, especially, is guilty of this; however, she soon learns that one's background neither determines one's competency nor one's superiority over others.

I personally found this book depressing. It's well written, but it put me in a real funk.

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