Synopses & Reviews
Writing with the scathing wit and bright perceptiveness for which he has become known, celebrated English author Edward St. Aubyn creates a complex family portrait that examines the shifting allegiances between mothers, sons, and husbands.
The novel's perspective ricochets among all members of the Melrose family the family featured in St. Aubyn's widely praised trilogy, Some Hope starting with Robert, who provides an exceptionally droll and convincing account of being born; to Patrick, a hilariously churlish husband who has been sexually abandoned by his wife in favor of his sons; to Mary, who's consumed by her children and overwhelming desire not to repeat the mistakes of her own mother.
All the while, St. Aubyn examines the web of false promises that entangle this once illustrious family whose last vestige of wealth, an old house in the south of France is about to be donated by Patrick's mother to a New Age foundation.
An up-to-the-minute dissection of the mores of child-rearing, marriage, adultery, and assisted suicide, Mother's Milk showcases St. Aubyn's luminous and acidic prose and his masterful ability to combine the most excruciating emotional pain with the driest comedy.
"This elegant and witty satire on the dissatisfactions of family life, which continues the story of Patrick Melrose, the hero of St. Aubyn's U.S. debut (Some Hope), opens in August 2000 at Patrick's mother's home in the south of France, with Patrick's five-year-old son, Robert, remembering with preternatural clarity the circumstances of his birth. No one on this vacation is particularly happy; Robert realizes he's being displaced by the arrival of baby brother Thomas, and Patrick is furious because his mother plans to leave her house (and what remains of her fortune) to Seamus Dourke, a ridiculous New Age guru. Over the next three Augusts, the Melrose story unfolds from different points of view: Patrick is deep in the throes of a midlife crisis; Mary, his wife, feels her self has been obliterated by the incessant demands of motherhood; and the two precociously verbal children struggle to make sense of the complexities of life. The narrative itself is thin, but the pleasures of the book reside in the author's droll observations (overweight Americans, for example, have 'become their own air-bag systems in a dangerous world'). It's yet another novel about familial dysfunction but told in a fresh, acerbic way." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
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"First-rate fiction." Francine Prose, The New York Observer
"It's difficult to think of anyone who writes better about children and married life." Suzy Feay, Independent on Sunday
"A keenly observed, perversely funny novel about an illustrious cosmopolitan family and the mercurial matriarch who rules them all." People
"You can't help liking these people, even as you realize that if they met you in real life they'd cut you dead." New York Times
"Entertaining, but the milk here is decidedly skim." Kirkus Reviews
The book's structure...is overschematic, and St. Aubyn's satiric barbs, although as deadly as ever, are wasted on easy targets like uncouth Americans and New Age hypocrites." The New Yorker
"Edward St. Aubyn's novels are so intoxicatingly witty that their high seriousness may not be immediately apparent. This seriousness is not tacked on as a solemn 'message'; it is intrinsic to his ferociously comic vision. Yet they cannot be described as social satires: there is no facile exaggeration, no smug misanthropy or studied indignation involved in the uncomfortable truths he tells." Francis Wyndham, the New York Review of Books
(read the entire New York Review of Books review
A New York Times Notable Book, Mother's Milk is a brilliantly stylish and witty novel by a master of modern British fiction. Widely acclaimed in the United States and the UK, Mother's Milk follows the Melroses, the same family featured in St. Aubyn's trilogy, Some Hope. First we meet Robert, who provides an exceptionally droll and convincing account of being born; then Patrick, a hilariously churlish husband who has been sexually abandoned by his wife in favor of motherhood; then Mary, who's consumed by her children and an overwhelming desire not to repeat the mistakes of her own mother. All the while, St. Aubyn examines the web of false promises that entangles this once illustrious family, whose last vestige of wealth an estate in the South of France is about to be permanently donated by Patrick's mother to a new-age foundation.
About the Author
Edward St. Aubyn is the author of A Clue to the Exit, On the Edge, and the trilogy Some Hope.