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Some Hope by Edward St. Aubyn
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Some Hope (original 1994; edition 2006)

by Edward St. Aubyn

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122898,111 (3.48)22
Member:miss_read
Title:Some Hope
Authors:Edward St. Aubyn
Info:Picador (2006), Paperback
Collections:Your library, To read
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Tags:tbr, fiction, US, New York City, UK, England, Gloucestershire, France, Provence, addiction, drugs, relationships, abuse, sexual abuse, 1990s

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Some Hope (Novel) by Edward St Aubyn (1994)

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Some Hope undoubtedly feels like the third of the trilogy the Patrick Melrose series was intended to be on its publication back in 1994. It mirrors the events of Never Mind as the clans gather again twenty-six years later, this time for a huge house-party in Gloucestershire.
(This is set in February 1991, Bad News took place in 1982 with a 22-year-old Patrick, but Never Mind used references of the late 60's and early 70's although he was 5 in the book, which would have been 1965.)

Certain events are effectively replayed with more satisfying conclusions, yet without overshadowing the plain differences brought by the passage of time. (I'll forgive one unlikely coincidence in an otherwise very satisfying novel.) And I love the arch reference in putting feathers on the cover.

For the first time in the series, there is a feeling of genuine friendship and human connection between characters, that which creates the hope: Patrick and Johnny Hall, both now recovering addicts, the former angrier than his friend. And Anne, probably the most empathic person in the earlier books, finally gets to say what she hoped to all along.

What stays the same is how awful most of the other characters are: "Hard dull people who appeared quite sophisticated but were in fact as ignorant as swans". Are swans notably stupid? I'm not sure, but in this phrase St. Aubyn captures everything I'd been struggling to describe succinctly about his people.

A quote from the New Yorker: "Perhaps because he is much more of an aristocratic insider than Wilde or Waugh ... [St Aubyn] retains no arriviste enamoredness of the upper classes he is supposedly satirizing." I am rather fond of that tone myself and remember the cold-shower shock when my own romanticised reflections on a summer residential course at a boarding school (mostly about wandering alone in the early-morning misty grounds or talking all night in obscure rooms with one new found best friend)opened an unmapped crevasse for a few minutes in conversation with someone who'd had horrendous experiences as an insider and is not much younger than the author. (Though the loathesomeness of dorms, even when the inhabitants are fairly benign, was agreed upon by both.)
St. Aubyn shows the clear coldness of so much of that world ... he does still like some of the physical surroundings and the vocab, I feel, but quite damns the inhumanity.

I struggle to remember (well, I struggle to remember a few things these days...) when, if ever, I last devoured a series like this. The instant availability of online purchasing makes it possible to gorge myself like a kid who's found a huge box of biscuits hidden in a cupboard, when once there would have at least had to be repeated trips to libraries or bookshops, or waits for deliveries. Having read a few reviews by people who've read the books one-a-day, it seems that for the susceptible, they have an addictiveness of their own.

[Nope, I was too upset by the first chapter of Mother's Milk so I may leave it for a while, if I ever read it.]

Read 21 April 2013. ( )
  antonomasia | Aug 15, 2013 |
This is the third novel in Edward St. Aubyn's Patrick Melrose series. Patrick is now 30 years old and he has recently stopped using drugs, replacing them with frequent meaningless sexual encounters and alcohol, while he wallows in self pity and ennui. He is financially independent and abhors the thought of work. He receives an invitation from Nicholas Pratt to attend a lavish party in honor of Princess Margaret in the English countryside, which is meant to ensure his connection with the right people. Characters from both previous novels appear in this one, and the dinner is highlighted by a delightfully amusing encounter between Princess Margaret and the French ambassador. I found this to be the least interesting of the three novels, although it was very well written and the series as a whole was a very worthwhile read. ( )
  kidzdoc | May 11, 2013 |
It is a mark of St Aubyn's writing that I almost felt my blood boil at the monstrous upper-class characters assembled at a party deep in the Englsh countryside (in the 70s or 80s?). Could I detach myself enough, I wondered, in order to appreciate what the novelist was doing?

And then, in Chapter 9:

'They're the last Marxists", said Johnny unexpectedly. 'The last people who believe that class is a total explanation. Long after that doctrine has been abandoned in Moscow and Peking it will continue to flourish under the marquees of England. Although most of them have the courage of a half-eaten worm,' he continued, warming to his theme, 'and the intellectual vigour of dead sheep, they are the true heirs to Marx and Lenin.'

'You'd better go and tell them,' said Patrick. I think most of them were expecting to inherit a bit of Gloucestershire instead'.

At this juncture I started to settle into the book and enjoy the writing. Earlier on I'd been so detached that I'd taken to writing out lists for a 'who's who' in this book as I was confused.

To repair himself it is Patrick Melrose who has to 'detach' himself both from the hatred of his father and the stunted love of him: will Patrick be able to release himself into a new life? By the end of the novel there are signs that he's starting to do that and I found that quite touching.

St Aubyn is a good stylish writer and I'm now looking forward to his 'Mother's Milk'. ( )
  hazelk | Mar 19, 2013 |
The third in the series of four: I liked this least. He's at a party and there's a lot of talking and in all it was quite boring. Looking forward to finishing the series so I can read At Last at last. ( )
  bobbieharv | Jul 9, 2012 |
A difficult book to summarise. The writing is of the highest calibre - or rather intelligence. Every sentence is a work of art. And every sentence of dialogue is a bon mot. For all that, it comes across as not quite believable. Everyone is just too, too, too OTT. There are maybe one or two minor characters that are remotely 'normal'.
This is really three books, originally published as such. "Never Mind", a glimpse into one period in Patrick's childhood is possibly the best. It's chilling in its portrayal of the selfishness of the 'set' into which he's born and is, if anything, an exploration of his parents, especially his father, and the other adults in his life and how their behaviour impacts Patrick. Most specifically, his father's abusive behaviour towards him (and you'll have to read the book to see how far that extends) and where that behaviour comes from, foreshadow what Patrick will become as an adult. Personally, I found the abuse a step too far; it wasn't necessary for it to be as bad as it was and kind of weakened the plot. I know it was largely autobiographical but it didn't have to be so close to the author's own experience, at least for this reader.
"Bad News" is set when Patrick, as a drug-addicted twentysomething, hears of his father's death and flies out to New York to collect his body. It is in essence a harrowing portrayal of Patrick's addiction.
"Some Hope", the final novella, is set some years later when Patrick, now in recovery, travels to a country-house party. It is very funny, but farcically so. There are scenes of almost embarrassing slapstick featuring Princess Margaret and the French ambassador... It's not clear how or when Patrick managed to recover from his addiction, but it does explore how he tries to move on from hating from his father so he can let go of that and live his life ( )
  justininlondon | Sep 19, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
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'Aren't people awful?' said Aurora Donne in that condescending voice for which she was famous. Her large liquid eyes and creamy complexion gave her the soft beauty of a Charolais cow, but her sniggering laughter, reserved for her own remarks, was more reminiscent of a hyena.
David Windfall, florid and hot from his bath, squeezed into dinner jacket trousers that seemed to strain like sausage skins from the pressure of his thighs. Beads of sweat broke out continually on his upper lip and forehead. He wiped them away, glancing at himself in the mirror; although he looked like a hippopotamus with hypertension he was well satisfied.

He was going to have dinner with Cindy Smith. She was world-famously sexy and glamorous, but David was not intimidated because he was charming and sophisticated and, well, English. The Windfalls had been making their influence felt in Cumbria for centuries before Miss Smith popped onto the scene, he reassured himself as he buttoned up the overtight shirt on his already sweating neck.
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From Provence to New York to Gloucestershire, through the savageries of a childhood with a tyrannical father and an alcoholic mother, to a young adulthood fraught with drug addiction, we follow Patrick Melrose's search for redemption amidst a crowd of glittering social dragonflies whose vapidity is the subject of his most stinging and memorable barbs. A story of abuse, addiction and recovery, the trilogy is a haunting yet hilarious depiction of a journey to and from the furthest limits of the human experience.… (more)

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