Dunbar: Book summary and reviews of Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn

Dunbar

Hogarth Shakespeare

by Edward St. Aubyn

Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn
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  • Publishes in USA 
    Oct 3, 2017
    256 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A reimagining of one of Shakespeare's most well-read tragedies, by the contemporary, critcally acclaimed master of domestic drama.

Henry Dunbar, the once all-powerful head of a global media corporation, is not having a good day. In his dotage he hands over care of the corporation to his two eldest daughters, Abby and Megan, but as relations sour he starts to doubt the wisdom of past decisions.

Now imprisoned in Meadowmeade, an upscale sanatorium in rural England, with only a demented alcoholic comedian as company, Dunbar starts planning his escape. As he flees into the hills, his family is hot on his heels. But who will find him first, his beloved youngest daughter, Florence, or the tigresses Abby and Megan, so keen to divest him of his estate?

Edward St Aubyn is renowned for his masterwork, the five Melrose novels, which dissect with savage and beautiful precision the agonies of family life. His take on King Lear, Shakespeare's most devastating family story, is an excoriating novel for and of our times – an examination of power, money and the value of forgiveness.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A fairly underwhelming King Lear adaptation. Didn't Jane Smiley's Thousand Acres already give us a less caustic version of this daughters-fighting-over-the-family-business scenario? It is Dunbar and his emotional awakening and reconciliation with Florence (Cordelia) that power the book. The other two sadistic, nymphomaniac daughters and their henchmen are too thinly drawn and purposelessly evil to be believed. Edward St. Aubyn uses direct and adapted literary quotations to good effect, but otherwise the writing is not very compelling. I've felt this way with a few of the Hogarth Shakespeares now: what's the point when I could just go back and read the original?" - BookBrowse

"Starred Review. A brilliant reworking of William Shakespeare's King Lear for our day." – Kirkus

"The end of this contemporary version is abrupt and unsatisfying, but the tale is the perfect vehicle for what this author does best, which is to expose repellent, privileged people and their hollow dynasties in stellar prose." - Publishers Weekly

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Edward St Aubyn was born in London. His superbly acclaimed Patrick Melrose novels are Never Mind, which won a Betty Trask Award, Bad News, Some Hope, Mother's Milk, which won the Prix Femina étranger and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and At Last. He is also the author of the novels A Clue to the Exit, On the Edge, which was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize and Lost for Words, which won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize.

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