30 January 2009

Review: A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

Mark Haddon's A Spot of Bother is another of my 84 cent books I picked up at Superstore back before Christmas. I had been interested in reading Haddon's novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time but never quite got around to it, so when I found this book I thought it might do as a second choice for seeing what sort of books this author writes and if I'd be interested in reading more.

A Spot of Bother is about George Hall's gradual descent into madness as the date of his daughter's second marriage approaches. He doesn't want to be a bother, especially since the rest of his family seems to be falling apart at the seams in the lead up to the wedding.

Opening paragraph:
It began when George was trying on a black suit in Allders the week before Bob Green's funeral.

It was not the prospect of the funeral that had unsettled him. Nor Bob dying. To be honest he had always found Bob's locker-room bonhomie slightly tiring and he was secretly relieved that they would not be playing squash again. Moreover, the manner in which Bob had died (a heart attack while watching the Boat Race on television) was oddly reassuring. Susan had come back from her sister's and found him lying on his back in the center of the room with one hand over his eyes, looking so peaceful she thought initially that he was taking a nap.
It's not really fair to say the book is just about George's mental health, though, as all members of the family – George's wife Jean, their son Jamie, daughter Katie, Katie's son Jacob, and the fiancĂ© Ray – are equally important to the story. One of the really wonderful things about this book is how human these characters all are. They're full of faults and foibles but they still come across as sympathetic, likable, believable characters.

Another really wonderful thing about this book is how funny it is. I suppose it's that sort of British humour, but it's just the sort of humour I most enjoy. No pratfalls and no gross-out humour. I can't seem to find any of the bits that made me laugh the most, but really, a funny book.

Honestly, I can't think of a bad thing to say about this book. I'm sure, like any book, it's not for everyone, but I can't think of what would put anyone off it. It's just thoroughly enjoyable.

Mark Haddon has written a number of books for children, but is probably most well known for his first adult novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. A Spot of Bother is his second novel for adults; you can read more about it, including a number of short extracts, at the official website, here.

Haddon, Mark. A Spot of Bother. Toronto: Anchor, 2007.
Finished: 27 January 2009
Rating: 5 of 5 cancerous spots on the hip
This was my 5th book in January and my 5th in 2009.

*Psst... my ratings are numbered 1-5, meaning something like 1=sucky, 2=meh, 3=okay, 4=good, 5=great.

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