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A Spot of Bother

Mark Haddon

Average Review Rating Average Rating 7/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Jonathan Cape

Published : 2006

Copyright : Mark Haddon 2006

ISBN-10 : HB 0-22408-046-6
ISBN-13 : HB 978-0-22408-046-0

Publisher's Write-Up

George Hall doesn't understand the modern obsession with talking about everything. 'The secret of contentment, George felt, lay in ignoring many things completely.' Some things in life, however, cannot be ignored.

At fifty-seven, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement, building a shed in his garden, reading historical novels, listening to a bit of light jazz. Then Katie, his tempestuous daughter, announces that she is getting remarried, to Ray. Her family is not pleased - as her brother Jamie observes, Ray has 'strangler's hands'.

Katie can't decide if she loves Ray, or loves the wonderful way he has with her son Jacob, and her 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 former colleagues. And the tidy and pleasant life Jamie has created crumbles when he fails to invite his lover, Tony, to the dreaded nuptials. 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 Mark Haddon's disturbing yet very funny portrait of a dignified man trying to go insane politely.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Jessica (120707) Rating (7/10)

Review by Jessica
Rating 7/10
Author, illustrator and screenwriter Mark Haddon, is the man who wrote The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time which became a best-seller around the world. His other literary works include a collection of poetry entitled The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea, which was published in 2005. Mark has now written A Spot of Bother, a hilarious yet strange tale about a dysfunctional English family and a wedding.

Optimistic yet perhaps a little naïve, daughter of George and Jean Hall, Katie, is to marry her fiancé, Ray, for the second time against the advice of her parents. Everyone knows how Katie is, she changes her mind every week and re-marrying Ray only spells disaster to them. And it seems however unsure Katie feels about actually being in love with Ray, she's determined to grab her wedding dress and just do it. Is this a good idea, especially with Katie's son, Jacob, who is none too fond of Ray.

With all the fuss over Katie's wedding plans, her brother Jamie (whose gay sexuality hasn't gone down well with his parents) is going through a bad patch, as a result of Jamie's inability to commit to his partner. Too many emotions are stored up because Jamie just can't bear to get too close.
George, forgotten about in the madness of the household, has found a "cancer" growth on his leg but after visiting the doctors and hearing the diagnosis was just discoid eczema he still isn't convinced. Things get even worse for poor George when his marriage starts to go down the drain and the more he realises this, the more George starts to lose his mind.

Determined to stop the "spot of bother" on his leg, George downs a large tumbler of whisky with two codeines, raids the kitchen draw for some scissors, sharpens a carving knife just for "good measure" and makes sure that the trusty first-aid kit is close to hand. He then, somewhat foolishly, begins to administer DIY surgery. Mark tells this episode in a hilarious yet squeamish way that made my toes curl and my ribs hurt from laughing so much.

This is a very uncanny tale of a family struggling to make everything appear normal. Personally, I found this wasn't an easy book to get into. It took more then a few chapters before I finally managed to follow the plot and familiarize myself with the characters. Even then I found it hard to empathize with these people. However, it is very realistic when we begin to see things through George's eyes and witness his state of madness. Maybe the only two reasons why I kept reading this was to find out what happened to George and his "spot" and find out whether Katie would manage to marry Ray or does it all end in tears? Definitely worth a read anyhow.
Jessica (12th July 2007)

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