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The Patrick Melrose Trilogy by Edward…

The Patrick Melrose Trilogy (original 1998; edition 1998)

by Edward St.Aubyn

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1901162,147 (4.18)8
Title:The Patrick Melrose Trilogy
Authors:Edward St.Aubyn
Info:Minerva (1998), Paperback, 560 pages
Collections:Your library

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Some Hope: A Trilogy by Edward St. Aubyn (1998)



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Patrick has cleaned up his act and is attending a party out in the country. Princess Margaret is attending. He is agonizing over how he is going to be able to get rid of all the hatred he has for his father. Some scenes from the previous two books are glimpsed as from a distance and seem to be haunting him but also helping enable some sort of break-through to a new way of looking at things. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
For the first 19 pages, I was disgusted: would this turn out to be the usual, over-descriptive, self-pitying mush? For God's sake, why do you need to say 'black and white magpie'? What the heck other colour magpies are there? Rage ensued.
The next day, I read through the rest of 'Never Mind,' the first novel, straight. It whupped me. Great stuff- fantastic characters, intelligent themes, beautiful writing, funny and emotionally stunning.
So I got to work on 'Bad News,' which was slightly above-par drug-lit. Better written than most of the "and then I tipped a few grains of smack into the spoon which was already black from over-use and applied the flame and watched as it bubbled and pulled back the syringe and plunged it into my arm but because I'm such a hardcore drug user I can't find my veins so I ruined my hit and..." crap, but honestly? Pretty weak compared to 'Never Mind.'
And 'Some Hope,' the final novel, pretty much split the difference. It's post drugs, thank the gods, so we don't have minute descriptions of works; it's also not as concentrated as 'Never Mind.'

The main thing is, St Aubyn writes very well, and manages to combine what is essentially a story of redemption with the kind of charming cynicism that's usually taken to undermine redemption stories. He's very clever; you could write a dissertation, well, maybe a Master's thesis, on this book alone. It's not flawless, but in a world of tentative, day-in-the-life-of realism and lame brained 'experiment' or quirk, you're better off reading this than most things. Wilde James Amis is a nice equation, especially since this book manages to destroy any urge you might have towards nostalgia or even respect for aristocracy. Princess Margaret gets a particularly violent mocking. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
The novels in Edward St. Aubyn's five part Patrick Melrose series are heavily based on St. Aubyn's life, growing up in a highly dysfunctional British upper middle class family with a cruel abusive father and an unprotective substance abusing mother. As he said in a recent article in The Guardian, "The whole Melrose series is an attempt to tell the truth, and is based on the idea that there is some salutary or liberating power in telling the truth. So it would have been quite tiresome to lie about it after having done it. But I can still say what I think is true – that I have spent 22 years trying to transform painful lived experience into what I hope is pleasurable reading experience. The intention was to make a work of art rather than a confession."

Some Hope includes the first three Patrick Melrose novels, which were initally published as The Patrick Melrose Trilogy in a single volume by Vintage in 1998. This version of the trilogy was released by Picador in 2006. The fourth novel, Mother's Milk, was shortlisted for the 2006 Booker Prize, and At Last, the final book in the series, was published in 2011.

St. Aubyn was born in 1960, and he was repeatedly sodomized by his father between the ages of five and eight, as Patrick Melrose was in the first novel of the series, Never Mind. In it, St. Aubyn portrays Patrick's parents, David and Eleanor. David is a jack of several trades but a master of none, as he briefly practiced as a physician and as a pianist, both under the withering opposition of his own father, who all but disinherited him upon his death. David's upper middle class upbringing leads him to look at nearly everyone with extreme disdain, including his "friends" and those who share his values, and his frustration with his failed life is expressed toward them and especially Eleanor, his well to do American wife, and Patrick, his only son. Eleanor is able to escape David by sleeping in a separate room, driving away in her car, which no one else is allowed to command, and her frequent use of drugs and alcohol. Patrick, however, suffers the full brunt of his father's anger, as he tortures and verbally belittles him in order to make him a tough and independent young man. Other characters are introduced in the novel, who will appear in the subsequent two novels, most notably Nicholas Pratt, who is as close to David as anyone and finds him both admirable for his firmly held opinions and loyalty to British tradition, and misanthropic, for his virulent hatred of everyone, including himself. These characters meet for dinner at the Melrose house in a French country town populated by like minded Britons, as Nicholas and his latest girlfriend come there for a brief visit. The conversation is witty and acerbic, with wicked humor interspersed between the sharp barbs fired by these supposed friends.

The trauma of his childhood led St. Aubyn to become addicted to heroin between the ages of 16 and 28. In Bad News, the second novel, Patrick Melrose, now aged 22, travels to New York City for a brief visit to claim his father's body, after he died suddenly there. Patrick's crippling and all encompassing addiction to heroin, cocaine and a bevy of other medications is the main theme of the novel, and this reader was amazed by the massive amount of drugs that Patrick consumed, the use of one drug to counteract the effects of another, and the utter depravity that he had fallen into. The account comes across as authentic, and it was obvious to me that St. Aubyn had lived through or witnessed events such as these as a young adult. Included in this novel are tedious dialogues with several Britons who mourn David's death, while they engage in maudlin admiration for him, their dying breed, and their own trivial accomplishments and acquisitions.

In the final novel, Some Hope, 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.

The strength of these three novels is St. Aubyn's gifted writing and dialogue, as he repeatedly skewers the British upper middle class, portraying them as vacuous, utterly useless and despicable excuses for human beings. His description of a drug fueled weekend in Bad News is powerful and disturbing, and that novel should be required reading for all teenagers or any adult who is thinking of using illegal drugs. Many of the characters are so unlikable that I could barely stand to spend any time with them, which is the main reason I only gave the trilogy four stars overall. However, this trilogy was an excellent read, which I would highly recommend. ( )
9 vote kidzdoc | May 11, 2013 |
Totally crazy about this so far. ( )
  Lacy.Simons | Apr 3, 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 |
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At half past seven in the morning, carrying the laundry she had ironed the night before, Yvette came down the drive on her way to the house.
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This LT Work is Edward St. Aubyn's complete trilogy, "The Patrick Melrose Trilogy," a/k/a "Some Hope: A Trilogy." The Trilogy includes volume 1, Never Mind (1992); volume 2, Bad News (1992); and volume 3, also titled Some Hope (1994). Please distinguish between this complete trilogy and the single novel that is volume 3. Thank you.
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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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