George Hall is an unobtrusive man. A little distant, perhaps, a little cautious, not quite at ease with the emotional demands of fatherhood, or manly bonhomie. He does not 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 61, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement, building a shed in his garden, reading historical novels and listening to a bit of light jazz. Then his tempestuous daughter, Katie, announces that she is getting re-married, to the deeply inappropriate Ray. Her family is not pleased as her brother Jamie observes, Ray has "stranglers hands." Katie cant 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 husbands ex-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 Haddons disturbing yet amusing portrait of a dignified man trying to go insane politely.
"It's an odd, slight plot ... but it zips along, and Haddon subtly pulls it all together with sparkling asides and a genuine sympathy for his poor Halls. No bother at all, this comic follow-up to Haddon's blockbuster .... is great fun.
"A novelist of major potential puts his artistic ambition on hold with this minor follow-up to his audacious breakthrough .... Takes too long to arrive at its farcical finale and seems too slight in the process." - Kirkus.
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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, the Sad Girl, and the Village Under the Sea, a collection of poetry, Haddon has also written and illustrated numerous award-winning children's books and television screenplays. He teaches writing for the Arvon foundation and at Oxford University. He lives in Oxford with his wife and son.
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