Synopses & Reviews
George Hall is an unobtrusive man. A little distant, perhaps, a little cautious, not quite at ease with the emotional demands of fatherhood or of manly bonhomie. "The secret of contentment, George felt, lay in ignoring many things completely." Some things in life can't be ignored, however: his tempestuous daughter Katie's deeply inappropriate boyfriend Ray, for instance, or the sudden appearance of a red circular rash on his hip.
At 57, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement, building a shed in his garden and enjoying the freedom to be alone when he wants. But then he runs into a spot of bother. That red circular rash on his hip: George convinces himself it's skin cancer. And the deeply inappropriate Ray? Katie announces he will become her second husband. The planning for these frowned-upon nuptials proves a great inconvenience to George's wife, Jean, who is carrying on a late-life affair with her husband's ex-colleague. The Halls do not approve of Ray, for vague reasons summed up by their son Jamie's observation that Ray has "strangler's hands." Jamie himself has his own problems his tidy and pleasant life comes apart when he fails to invite his lover, Tony, to Katie's wedding. And Katie, a woman whose ferocious temper once led to the maiming of a carjacker, can't decide if she loves Ray, or loves the wonderful way he has with her son Jacob.
Unnoticed in the uproar, George quietly begins to go mad. The way these damaged people fall apart and come together as a family is the true subject of Haddon's hilarious and disturbing portrait of a dignified man trying to go insane politely.
A Spot of Bother is Mark Haddon's unforgettable follow-up to the internationally beloved bestseller The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Once again, Haddon proves a master of a story at once hilarious, poignant, dark, and profoundly human. Here the madness literally of family life proves rich comic fodder for Haddon's crackling prose and bittersweet insights into misdirected love.
"It's a pleasant comic caper, the literary equivalent of a night spent watching a romantic comedy. There's nothing wrong with it, but nothing hugely memorable, either." San Francisco Chronicle
"The surprise is that after spending a few hundred pages with these not- awfully-lovable characters, you come to regard them with something like affection." Wall Street Journal
"Though Haddon is a clever writer...the results here fall somewhere between the psychological depth of Anne Tyler and the breeziness of Nick Hornby. Takes too long to arrive at its farcical finale and seems too slight in the process." Kirkus Reviews
"Haddon perfectly captures his characters' frailties and strengths while injecting humor with pinpoint accuracy. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"Full of dialogue too clever by half, too perfectly timed to feel sincere. Even the book's one child can occasionally fire back zingers, giving this story the swift-moving, shallow current feel of television and the same lasting power." Newsday
"A Spot of Bother snaps, crackles and pops with humor and pathos as Haddon depicts family members driving one another crazy." Los Angeles Times
"A Spot of Bother
is such a pleasure to read it is funny, wry, and well-paced that it is only later that you realize what a thoughtful novel it is. Mark Haddon created a unique voice in Christopher, his autistic fifteen-year-old narrator of The Curious Incident
, and the book went on to win the Whitbread Book of the Year. A Spot of Bother
is less quirky, less dazzlingly ambitious, yet to my mind it is just as satisfying and emotionally rich." Georgie Lewis, Powells.com
(read the entire Powells.com review
One of the most keenly awaited books of the year: the new novel from Mark Haddon. "The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time" won no fewer than 17 literary prizes, including the Whitbread, and has sold in copious quantities in all its editions. "A Spot Of Bother" begins with George Hall, a retired man in his sixties, finding a mark on his hip, which he is convinced is skin cancer. His increasingly odd behaviour is a worry to his family, but they have their own concerns to deal with. Part family-farce, part clear-eyed presentation of mental illness, part novel of manners, all written in Mark Haddon's unique and affecting style.
About the Author
Mark Haddon is the author of the international bestseller The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction and the Whitbread Book of the Year award. In addition to the recently published The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea, a collection of poetry, Haddon has also written and illustrated numerous children's books and received several awards for his television screenplays.