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A SPOT OF BOTHER by Mark Haddon

A SPOT OF BOTHER (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Mark Haddon

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5,1881721,332 (3.54)210
At 61, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement, building a shed in his garden, reading historical novels and listening to a bit of light jazz. Then his tempestuous daughter, Katie, announces that she is getting re-married, to the deeply inappropriate Ray. Katie's 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 ex-colleagues. 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 Haddon's disturbing yet amusing portrait of a dignified man trying to go insane politely.… (more)
Authors:Mark Haddon
Info:Jonathan Cape (2006), Edition: 1ST, Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Read but unowned

Work details

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon (2006)

  1. 20
    Morgan's Passing by Anne Tyler (sturlington)
  2. 20
    The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (fyrefly98)
  3. 20
    A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby (SimoneA, sturlington)
    SimoneA: The writing style of Mark Haddon in this book reminds me very much of Nick Hornby.
  4. 10
    A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (ehines)
    ehines: Both fine comic writers with the ability to make us sympathize with the most ridiculous characters without at all reducing the ridiculous quotient.
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    What's Wrong with Dorfman? A Novel by John Blumenthal (sturlington)
    sturlington: Midlife crises, hypochondria
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    A Bit of a Do by David Nobbs (sanddancer)
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    Starting Over by Tony Parsons (SimoneA)
    SimoneA: Both books tell the story of a middle aged man who has to get to terms with himself and his situation in a dry and funny way.
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    The Promise of Happiness by Justin Cartwright (bergs47)

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» See also 210 mentions

English (157)  German (5)  Norwegian (3)  French (2)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (172)
Showing 1-5 of 157 (next | show all)
This went downhill from a mediocre premise. The ending was entirely unsatisfying, and if any part of the goal was to challenge the way we (and men in particular) experience and respond to mental health crises, it failed. In the future I will trust my gut and skip the sad sack family narratives. ( )
  NML_dc | Aug 17, 2019 |
Excerpts from my original GR review (Jul 2011):
- Haddon earned a second go-round after my enjoyment of the oddly entertaining The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. But I've got no plaudits to toss at this one. There's a decent skeleton of a story here.. Unfortunately, I think this family comedy, hijinks and all, reads like a padded movie script. (Hugh Grant, where are you?) ( )
  ThoughtPolice | Nov 24, 2018 |
I am not going to compare this one to Haddon’s novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Yes, that one is a great book but it has been too long since I read it for me to retain any strong memories. With A Spot of Bother, Haddon brings readers into the heart of the Hall family and the drama they create over the Katie’s approaching second marriage. One would think that a marriage the majority of the family is not all that keen on occurring would be enough fodder for any book, but we learn that each family member has its own self-absorbing issues: wife/mother Jean is distracted by some private matters she wants desperately to keep private; son/brother Jamie is having problems with his boyfriend; Katie is starting to have some doubts about the marriage and George – quiet, respectable and dependable George – starts to psychologically unravel. There are a lot of really fun, entertaining bits as both George, other family members and the wedding planning hit some interesting, farcical lows but at its heart, this is a wonderful story of family dynamics.

A delightful, entertaining read. ( )
  lkernagh | Nov 16, 2018 |
Incredibly annoying characters I found impossible to care about. What an irritating book! ( )
  Rdra1962 | Aug 1, 2018 |
Well written, but unfocused. Lacking in memorable characters. ( )
  mrgan | Oct 30, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 157 (next | show all)
“A Spot of Bother” isn’t nearly as audacious, and in other hands and other media, its plot elements wouldn’t amount to much, maybe a weepy nighttime soap or a lesser Steve Martin comedy.
But Haddon is too gifted and too ambitious to write a hacky second novel. In fact, he’s so wondrously articulate, so rigorous in thinking through his characters’ mind-sets, that “A Spot of Bother” serves as a fine example of why novels exist. Really, does any other art form do nuance so well, or the telling detail or the internal monologue?
added by sneuper | editNew York Times, David Kamp (Sep 17, 2006)
Just as he flawlessly mastered the voice of a boy with Asperger's in The Curious Incident, here Haddon has filled 390 pages with sharp and witty observations about family and daily life.
This a superb novel, and I was shocked when it didn't made the Man Booker longlist. There may be a perfectly obvious, simple reason for its omission. After reading it though, I can't think of an explanation that's good enough.
And that's what's so surprising about A Spot of Bother: how unsurprising it is. It's never less than pleasurable to read and there are good jokes and funny situations; it's just that it never tries to be much more than good jokes or funny situations.
It's not that this is a bad book - it isn't. It's amusing and brisk and charming. But readers could be forgiven for wanting - and expecting - more.
added by sneuper | editThe Guardian, Patrick Ness (Aug 26, 2006)

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Haddon, Markprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Andersson, ThomasTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Keating, CharlesReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Leskinen, TerhiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To My Continuity Girl
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It began when George was trying on a black suit in Allders the week before Bob Green's funeral.
1. The human mind was not designed for sunbathing and light novels. Not on consecutive days at any rate. The human mind was designed for doing stuff, making spears, hunting antelope...

2. ...moths like flying hamsters...

3. ...graffiti only counted if it was spelt correctly

4. What they failed to teach you at school was that the whole business of being human just got messier and more complicated as you get older.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Average: (3.54)
0.5 3
1 31
1.5 8
2 121
2.5 50
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