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 fifty-seven, 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.
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(125mm x 142mm x 24mm)
Random House Audiobooks
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US Kirkus Review »
A novelist of major potential puts his artistic ambition on hold with this minor follow-up to his audacious breakthrough.The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (2003) would be a tough act for any writer to follow. Haddon earned raves from critics and readers alike for the ingenious narrative voice of his protagonist, an autistic teenaged math genius investigating the disappearance of his mother and the death of a dog. The British author's first shot at adult fiction (following a number of children's books) was so strikingly original that it's particularly disappointing to find him here settling into the sort of conventional domestic comedy that so many have done before and that some have done better. George Hall is a 61-year-old retiree, a dutiful father and a dull, dependable husband. He has been living on autopilot until he discovers a spot on his skin and convinces himself that he has cancer. When neither his family nor his doctor takes his self-diagnosis seriously, he starts to think he's losing his mind. Wife Jean has been distracted by her affair with one of George's former coworkers. Their divorced daughter, Katie, announces her impending marriage to a man who might even be duller than George, but who provides security and emotional support for her son. Her gay brother, Jamie, is mainly concerned with whether to bring his lover to the wedding, knowing that his parents are in denial and that the guests will be scandalized. Will George die or go crazy? Will Jean leave him? Will Katie go through with the wedding? Will Jamie bring his lover? Will the reader care? Though Haddon is a clever writer with an eye and ear for the absurdities of everyday life, the results here fall somewhere between the psychological depth of Anne Tyler and the breeziness of Nick Hornby.Takes too long to arrive at its farcical finale and seems too slight in the process. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Mark Haddon
Mark Haddon is an author, illustrator and screenwriter who has written fifteen books for children and won two BAFTAs. His bestselling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time won seventeen literary prizes, including the Whitbread Award. His poetry collection, The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea, was published by Picador in 2005, and his last novel, The Red House, was published by Jonathan Cape in 2012. His most recent title is short story collection The Pier Falls. He lives in Oxford.