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A Spot of Bother


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The brilliant new novel by the author of THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT TIME.

About the Author

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.


A spot of bother is quite an understatement for what Haddon's characters endure in his impressive second novel (after his best-selling Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time). George Hall, retired and content with building his painting studio, discovers a lesion on his skin. Despite a diagnosis of eczema, he thinks he is dying of cancer, but no one in George's family notices his mental decline because of their own bit of trouble. Wife Jean is having a not-so-secret affair with David, one of George's old coworkers. Daughter Katie will soon marry someone unsuitable in the eyes of her family. Son Jamie feels "he's landed on the wrong planet, in the wrong family," as he copes with a breakup with his boyfriend. In the carnival atmosphere of Katie's wedding, the toilet overflows, unexpected guests bring their dog, and George goes after David in a rage because he can't stand the smug look on his face, but their lives are mended as well as they could be. Haddon perfectly captures his characters' frailties and strengths while injecting humor with pinpoint accuracy. Highly recommended for all public libraries.-Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Recent retiree George Hall, convinced that his eczema is cancer, goes into a tailspin in Haddon's (Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time) laugh-out-loud slice of British domestic life. George, 61, is clearly channeling a host of other worries into the discoloration on his hip (the "spot of bother"): daughter Katie, who has a toddler, Jacob, from her disastrous first-marriage to the horrid Graham, is about to marry the equally unlikable Ray; inattentive wife Jean is having an affair-with George's former co-worker, David Symmonds; and son Jamie doesn't think George is OK with Jamie's being queer. Haddon gets into their heads wonderfully, from Jean's waffling about her affair to Katie's being overwhelmed (by Jacob, and by her impending marriage) and Jamie's takes on men (and boyfriend Tony in particular, who wants to come to the wedding). Mild-mannered George, meanwhile, despairing over his health, slinks into a depression; his major coping strategies involve hiding behind furniture on all fours and lowing like a cow. It's an odd, slight plot-something like the movie Father of the Bride crossed with Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" (as skin rash)-but it zips along, and Haddon subtly pulls it all together with sparkling asides and a genuine sympathy for his poor Halls. No bother at all, this comic follow-up to Haddon's blockbuster (and nicely selling book of poems) is great fun. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"Brilliant...very funny" * Sunday Telegraph *
"A painful, funny, humane novel: beautifully written, addictively readable and so confident" * The Times *
"Wry, warm-hearted and entertaining" -- Charlotte Moore * Telegraph *
"Unforgettable" * Daily Express *
"A witty and subtle family drama" * Independent on Sunday *

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