Mother's Milk - Edward St Aubyn

Book Review by Graeme Allister | 11 Jan 2007
The mid-life crisis is a potent affliction. Just ask Patrick Melrose, the disenchanted anti-hero of Mother's Milk. His wife is such a devoted mother to their two young children that she no longer takes any interest in him. He's dabbling with alcoholism and infidelity. The one good thing in his life, his dying mother's French summer house, is about to be given to a New Age charlatan.

Set during four consecutive summers in said house, the thoroughly unpleasant Melrose family is seen crumbling as they are plagued by modern ills and dilemmas. Author Edward St Aubyn reports this situation with detached glee and a hearty dose of irony. A Booker prize nominee, St Aubyn writes with a natural flair that reveals the prose of Britain's more heralded authors for the laboured, stagnant artifice it is. The writing in Mother's Milk sparkles, balancing pathos with insightful comment on families and motherhood, revealing a depth you might not expect in a book this stylish.

At once dealing with domestic issues and national themes, if this book wasn't so page-turningly entertaining it would be described as that dreaded thing, the "important book". No subject is safe from St Aubyn's poison pen, and American readers might want to drink something stronger than milk before reading the acerbic dissection of their country and culture. As for anyone who owns a dreamcatcher or believes in the healing power of crystals, perhaps it would better to give this a miss unless particularly thick-skinned. For everyone else, enjoy.
Release Date - 19th January (Paperback). Published by Picador. Cover Price £7.99