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Mothers Milk by Edward St Aubyn
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Mothers Milk (original 2006; edition 2006)

by Edward St Aubyn

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5633017,691 (3.41)61
Member:soffitta1
Title:Mothers Milk
Authors:Edward St Aubyn
Info:Pan Macmillan Paperback Omes (2006), Edition: 2nd, Paperback, 279 pages
Collections:Bookcrossing, 1001 Books Read, 1001 Books - 2012, AVILA non-challenge
Rating:****
Tags:1001 Book, Euro 1001-Library VBB, Avila - Nov

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Mother's Milk by Edward St. Aubyn (2006)

  1. 00
    Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Another book with family dysfunction at the core. Like St. Aubyn's book playful, sharp, observant, and beautifully written.
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English (27)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (30)
Showing 1-5 of 27 (next | show all)
Certainly well written, and a good story, but a little too introspective for my taste. I liked the parts that the children narrate, but I got a bit tired of the self indulgent stream of consiousness commentary by Patrick. Not sure if i will read the rest of the series. Probably not. ( )
  kmstock | May 16, 2015 |
2005 book by British author, Edward St. Aubyn is a humorous and sad story of the Melrose family. As the title hints, it really looks at family relationships; sons to mothers, mothers to sons and wives and husbands all set in the beginning of the 2000s. I really enjoyed Robert's first chapter where he tells the reader his experience of being born. Really, these two children Robert and his younger brother Thomas are really too much. Their language and thoughts are quite beyond belief but very funny and a look at the effects of family on the children. Patrick, father and husband is the most unlikable character but really is kind of the character everyone else revolves around. Towards the end of the book, it came to me that Patrick reminds me of Harry Angstrom (Rabbitt of Updike creation) and Harry's struggles. The final sections, has the family traveling to America to visit the relatives and spend their vacation. The author depicts Americans as fat people living off industrialized food. I guess that means they don't eat industrialized food in Europe. Here's a quote "Factory farming doesn't stop in the slaughterhouse, it stops in our bloodstreams, after the Henry Ford food missiles have hurtled out of their cages into our open mouths and dissolved their growth hormones and their genetically modified feed into our increasingly wobbly bodies. Even when the food isn't 'fast', the bill is instantaneous, dumping an idle eater back on the snack crowded streets. In the end, we're on the same conveyor belt as the featherless, electrocuted chickens."and "The rest of country is just people in huge cars wondering what to eat next." Patrick battles alcohol, drugs, adultery throughout the story. I liked this statement on alcoholism; "Practically anything was less complicated than being a successful alcoholic." So true. And finally another line that I really loved just because we people in Minnesota like to complain of the weather "The climate here is impossible: we're up to our waists in snow until the middle of May, and two weeks later we're living in Vietnam." Anyway, this was well written, funny yet very insightful and sad in many ways story of family relationships in contemporary times. ( )
  Kristelh | May 10, 2015 |
While it can stand alone in a way that I don't think the first three of the Patrick Melrose novels could, Mother's Milk is built on those novels' horrible legacy of incest, drug abuse, and neglect, much as Patrick's own problems can never be separated from those of his parents. Unlike the previous three novels, which all take place over a day or two in the life of the protagonist, this one unfolds over three consecutive summers as the paradise of the French summer house is slowly lost. Though it's hard to like any of the characters, I couldn't stop reading. ( )
  sansmerci | Apr 2, 2015 |
Judging by the goodreads reviews (which are usually very reliable), this book seems to have been mis-marketed. Readers complain that the characters are unpleasant (which you should know going in, I admit) and that St. Aubyn is 'too much of a stylist,' which sounds to me like saying a composer is 'too musical' or a basketball player is 'too athletic.' From a straight description, you might think this is akin to, say Gerard Woodward's semi-autobiographical trilogy: addiction, family issues, well-written etc. From the blurbs, you might think it's a soap opera (Sam Lipsyte couldn't do better than 'harrowing entertainment'? I guess it's 'entertainment' if you assume that serious art is only produced in American MFA programs).

So, prospective reader, know that St. Aubyn's work is a salad, and that the ingredients are:

* Proust's essayistic novel form. As with Proust, you have to read carefully.
* Wilde's utterly unrealistic, yet brilliant, dialogue. As with Wilde, he's sometimes too clever for his own good.
* Waugh's ambivalent upper class satire.
* Richard Yates' beautifully styled misanthropy. As with Yates, it can all get a little tiring.

This is not to say he's the next Proust or Wilde, of course. But he's at least on a level with Yates.

This novel is beautifully and intelligently crafted. The opening section - told through the eyes of a 5 year old - should be ridiculously quirky, but is one of the best thirty or so pages published so far this century in English. St Aubyn clearly knows that the whole thing could be disastrous, and plays around with this fact. The shifting points of view throughout the novel are quite knowing, as well; St Aubyn refuses to insult his readers' intelligence by dumbing his work down and using old moves from the realism rulebook. At the same time, he holds on to what is valuable in the realistic tradition: a respect for the world outside of literature, the great potential of ironic narration, and the ability to put his readers into perspectives they ordinarily would not take up.

In short: an almost ideal blend of self-reflection, social thought and artistry.

The prose is so clear that it's often too easy to read: take your time, and try to understand exactly what's going on. It helps to have read the other books in the series, but it's probably not necessary. If you know this stuff going in, you'll hopefully get more out of the book than some reviewers seem to have done. ( )
1 vote stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
I heard an interview with St. Aubyn and wondered how I had somehow missed his books completely. Well-written and clever, this novel is rough going at times as main character struggles with his rage at his mother, who has decided to leave her estate to a charismatic Irish leader and his new-age organization. We move from the point of view of the children to the adults. The kids are lovely and well-defined, the adults...not so much. The wife is a cypher and fairly one-dimensional and I was disappointed with her utter helplessness. While admiring the structure, the sardonic wit and the language, I was glad to leave the claustrophobic mindset of the main character as he drinks himself into forgetfulness and oblivion. ( )
  tippycanoegal | Apr 1, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (8 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edward St. Aubynprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Juiz, Cruz RodríguezTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Why had they pretended to kill him when he was born?
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At his age he either had to join the resistance or become a collaborator with death. There was no room to play with self-destruction once the juvenile illusion of indestructability had evaporated.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 144720302X, Paperback)

THE FOURTH PATRICK MELROSE NOVEL The once illustrious, once wealthy Melroses are in peril. Caught up in the wreckage of broken promises, child-rearing, adultery and assisted suicide, Patrick finds his wife Mary consumed by motherhood, his mother in thrall to a New Age foundation, and his young son Robert understanding far more than he should. But even as the family struggles against the pull of its ever-present past, a new generation brings a new tenderness, and the possibility of change.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:12 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A brillant and scathingly funny family portrait that shows the shifting allegiances between parents, children, husbands and wives. The author combines the most excruciating pain with the driest comedy.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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