Some Hope: A Trilogy & Mother's Milk - Edward St. Aubyn

funny, shocking and sad, but always beautifully written

Book Review by Michael Gallagher | 16 May 2006
Some Hope' opens, ominously, at a house party held in the shadow of the Marquis de Sade's ruined ancestral home at Lacoste. The trilogy focuses on young Patrick Melrose and describes the destructive impact of a sadistic (small 's') father, spectacular substance abuse, and inherited wealth. By turns funny, shocking and sad, but always beautifully written, the novels (initially published between 1991 and 1994) have just been reissued by Picador as a single chunky paperback. For a reviewer with a word limit the book is frustratingly quotable. A single passage will have to suffice as an example of St Aubyn's prose style, but there are literally hundreds that would have done the job. Patrick's alcoholic mother Eleanor is taking a moment to meditate: "She imagined vodka poured over ice and all the cubes that had been frosted turning clear and collapsing in the glass and the ice cracking, like a spine in the hands of a confident osteopath. All the sticky, awkward cubes of ice floating together, tinkling, their frost thrown off to the side of the glass, and the vodka cold and unctuous in her mouth…" If the trilogy appeals, the good news is that 'Mother's Milk' - a free-standing fourth part to the series - has just been published, and is even better. [Michael Gallagher]