A Spot of Bother: Book summary and reviews of A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

A Spot of Bother

by Mark Haddon

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2006
    192 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

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 "strangler’s hands." Katie can’t 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 husband’s 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 Haddon’s disturbing yet amusing portrait of a dignified man trying to go insane politely.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"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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A spot of bother
I find this Mark Haddon book very funny, but it is not just that. It enters into a world of today where family life has changed . . . where the son is a homosexual and he doesn't feel accepted, the mother having an affair etc. . . . You see everybody has their own problems in the family, but they all somehow solve the crisis at last. I liked the book, it's one of the best.

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Author Information

Mark Haddon Author Biography

© Nigel Barklie

Mark Haddon is the author of the international bestseller, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. He won the Whitbread Award, Guardian Prize, and a Commonwealth Writers Prize for that work. In addition to 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. His short story, The Pier Falls, is currently longlisted for the 2015 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award, the richest prize in the world for a single short story.

He teaches writing for the Arvon foundation and at Oxford University. He lives in Oxford with his wife and son.

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