The Patrick Melrose Novels
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The Patrick Melrose Novels (The Patrick Melrose Novels #1-4)

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  1,491 ratings  ·  334 reviews

AnAtlantic MagazineBest Book of the Year
APublishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

“The Melrose Novels are a masterwork for the twenty-first century, written by one of the great prose stylists in England.” —Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones

For more than twenty years, acclaimed author Edward St. Aubyn has chronicled the life of Patrick Melrose, paintin...more
Paperback, 680 pages
Published January 31st 2012 by Picador
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So far, reads like Alan Hollinghurst's excruciatingly fucked up and much richer second cousin, in the best possible way. Seems to explore the unstated hypothesis that having to earn a living is what distracts most people from destroying their children, themselves, and everyone around them. Also definitively answers the question of whether the most lurid and cliched subjects can be not just salvaged but made new, relevant, and moving through brilliant English prose. (Spoiler: yes.)
Each of these novels is like a high-end entrée: exquisite and varied in flavor, yet unable on its own to satisfy the appetite. But together they provide complete satiation and not a hint of surfeit. St. Aubyn's sharp and justly-lauded prose is addicting; he manages to craft a story of the leading man least-deserving of your sympathy into something not only bleak and funny but oddly moving and genuine. One of the most enjoyable experiences I've had since reading Proust, who receives his fair shar...more
Jan 30, 2013 El rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to El by: The Professor
Another great recommendation from The Professor. He recommended this specific edition which holds the first four books in the Melrose series (the fifth book, At Last, was published in 2011). He said that he had trouble putting the stories down once he started, and I have to agree with that.

Never Mind - This story broke my heart quite a bit. Patrick Melrose is a five-year-old boy, living in the cold shadow of his disgustingly rich parents who barely know the first thing about parenting. He endure...more
Malena Watrous
Simultaneously hilarious and devastating--my favorite, brutal combination--wringing out laughter that hurts. As a friend put it, "These are the fucked up descendants of the downton abbey crew." There is this incredible tension between Patrick Melrose's hyper-articulate linguistic self indulgence as he describes the torments of his childhood and subsequent addictions and misery, and the almost inchoate line that he repeats, "No one should do that to another person," this wounded cry at what was t...more
Dec 26, 2013 Szplug marked it as intermittently-reading
A pair of recent reviews of At Last prompted me to take-up this tetralogy that I purchased, on a whim, a couple of months ago. Said whim was driven, in large part, by my attraction to the stark cover; and with the further experience of physically grasping and admiring the thing in my very hands, I find myself beguiled by this book's aesthetics—a cover design as black as Satan's pupils floating box islands of a neon pink that speaks of electrocuted roses or Rosé deepened to a homogenized lacquer...more
The most fun I've ever had reading about incest, heroin addiction, narcissism, cruelty and dementia. The blackest of comedies, written in beautiful, elegant prose, with razor-sharp dialog and heartbreaking, finely-drawn characters.

If, like me, you can't imagine enjoying yet another book about decadent rich Brits, I implore you to set your class prejudices aside and let yourself sink into the lush, awful world of the Melroses. Patrick's journey from child victim, to wanton self-destroyer, to des...more
I just began reading this collection of the first four books in the quintet of Patrick Melrose books, and I am STUNNED by what an amazing writer St. Aubyn is. Every paragraph contains a gem, and his characterizations are brilliant, as is his character development... and the way he handles the heaviest subject matter you can imagine.

I've been wondering, "Where has Edward St. Aubyn been all my life?" And then I remember, "Right, right. Pedophiliac, homosexual incest. Not the usual fare of my frien...more
OMG. apparently, the same reactions as many other reviewers, and "stunned" is the main one. have only read the first five chapters, and could hardly put down. and it isn't a quick page turner for plot, but the writing is so exceptionally beautiful that makes it a page turner. and as i was trying to put into sentences all the wonderful words such as enchanted, shocked, heightened senses, lucid, vivid, aesthetic, profound, philosophical, i realized that all the other reviewers have done the very s...more
Gary aka Grasshopper
Photobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosIf you've ever wondered what became of the Dedlocks of Chesney Wold you need look no further than this quartet of novels by Edward St. Aubyn. According to him, they changed their name to Melrose and fled to the South of France. We first meet Patrick Melrose as a lad of five in Never Mind. Poor Patrick battles against a brilliant, criminally-sadistic father and his criminally-negligent, rich American wife, who is capable of mothering only in the abstract. As much as Dickens predicted the declin...more
Patrick Brown
What do you want from fiction? The more I read, the more I realize that what I want, what fiction does for me, is allows me to live in another person's mind. To be able to see the world as someone else sees it, that's what I'm looking for when I open a novel. The other pleasures of the novel -- style, voice, etc. -- all flow from the consciousness of the characters.

In recent years, very few books have given me the glimpse into a character that The Patrick Melrose novels have. Told over a period...more
George Witte
I can't recommend this book highly enough...but it's not for every reader. Anyone who writes, or wants to write, should read these four novels and the concluding fifth, At Last. Read with a highlighter in hand because you will want to mark at least one sentence, one line of the cutting, witty, mordant, pitch-perfect dialogue from every single page. Readers of Martin (and Kingsley) Amis, Evelyn Waugh, and the darkest of the John Cheever novels and stories will be utterly gripped by these novels a...more
I read the whole thing cover to cover in like a week, so it does not bore you. That said, I'm feeling hard pressed to find something fascinating to say about these books. It follows the life of your typical messed up person, starting with early childhood with an abusive father and a disengaged mother, progressing through drug addicted young adulthood, drug-free further adulthood and finally married with children. The many demons that haunt the protagonist never really cease haunting him, they si...more
Mordantly funny and desperately sad, these four novels, written -- I'd guess -- over the last twenty some years, trace the life of Patrick Melrose, a member of the English upper class, from when Patrick is a roughly five-year-old boy to when he's become himself the father of two young sons. Melrose's upbringing was unspeakably horrid (probably like St. Aubyn's) and he pays the price as he careens from near collapse to recovery and back to near collapse while living through the death of his hatef...more
Judith Hannan
This book, as I mentioned in my recent blog, raised the question for me more so than any recent book I have read,of what is means to say a book is good. Without a doubt the writing in The Patrick Melrose Novels (a quartet of novels), an inspection and indictment of the prvileged English class, is exquisite. St. Aubyn is a keen observer but he also delivers his observations to the page in ways that are unique and also serve the story (as opposed to some writing that seems more like decoration.) T...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Erik Simon
I cannot tell you how many times during the course of these four novels I thought to myself, "I cannot believe I'm reading something this fucking good." Honestly, this St. Aubyn chap blew me away with his writing and storytelling ability, and this despite the fact that the book plunges into the world of fucked-up, rich, socialites, a group of people whose concerns and issues, whatever they are, I honestly could not, and do not, care less about. The fourth was my least favorite, largely because o...more
Richard Kramer
just started. will report in as situation develops. So far witty and dark. And he has the most perfect aristocratic accent I've ever heard (he has been much interviewed). His writer's voice is equally
elegant. I've read five pages, but I'm smelling a five-star horse here.

update April 23

I smelled wrong. It's four stars, and comfortably so. A technically very assured book, that made me want to imitate certain techniques, which is a very fluid, roving point of view, unique in the way it inhabits a s...more
When these four novels are at their best, they are what might be termed post-Austenian. The rest of the time, they are Brett Easton Ellis' American Psycho with cutting dialogue in lieu of violence.

The third of the four novels, Some Hope, is probably the best of them, as it takes the Austen formula of the big ball and turns it into a vicious affair, complete with a princess and musicians and witty observations such as:

'I don't suppose that forgiveness was uppermost in the minds of people who were...more
Andrew Schirmer
Do the Melrose novels, to use the words of Kingsley Amis, writing about Wodehouse "...continue on in their unique way, unmarked by the passage of time?" Yes, in a way they do. St. Aubyn writes minimally, allowing only a modicum of detail to mark place and time. His specialty is dialogue, that of the ironic variety, placing him squarely in the English comic tradition. Nearly all the novels (excepting "Mother's Milk"--incidentally, the only one to be Booker-shortlisted) revolve around an Event whi...more
Holy effing cow. These four novels -- it's hard to say whether they read as four separate works or one large one; I tend to the latter opinion -- amount to some of the most powerful work I've read in years. St. Aubyn combines extraordinarily bleak and painful subject matter (parental sadism and neglect, rape, addiction) with robust comedy (yes, believe it) and exquisite prose. But it's more than that St. Aubyn can tell a harrowing and resonant story--it's that he dares to take on a wildly ambiti...more
It's difficult to find words which accurately describe the life of Patrick Melrose, a last member of the self-destructing British aristocracy. Largely acknowledged to be autobiographical, St. Aubyn shows the reader that there's very little to like about Patrick and his family and friends although Patrick can be forgiven much about his descent into everything awful after a horrific rape inflicted upon him by his equally horrific father at the age of five. Somehow, Patrick survives and achieves a...more
So the New Yorker article I read about this series mentioned that St Aubyn has been compared to Evelyn Waugh and Oscar Wilde, but while I was reading I thought he reminded me more of Maugham, especially 'Of Human Bondage'. I think it's the smooth-as-butter prose and the self-loathing protagonist. Each novel in the series is better than the one before and for the last one I give five stars, rather than four.

St Aubyn is so deft, everything seems so easy for him. I love the way he darts into and o...more
Claudia Putnam
What's striking here is the characterizations. Patrick's father, first paragraph, out on the veranda torturing ants. Big Bang moment--the first three books pretty much blow up from there. But St. Aubyn is able to move into different points of view, even the terrible father's, and through this empathetic technique, we, like Patrick, are able to survive these people and grow. The first three books of this omnibus are concerned with raw survival--Patrick holding on to his humanity in the eye of a s...more
Ayelet Waldman
Reread all of these. They're every bit as good as the first few times I read them.
Nov 29, 2013 Jennie added it
These four novellas appear, on the surface to cover the luxury problems of the highly-educated and dubious survivor Patrick Melrose who comes from a family legacy so deeply dysfunctional, it is baroque. Skilled authorial threads connect Melrose's life trajectory in stages as he applies the salve of oblivion through his 20s, sobers up in his 30s, then goes on to father two sons whom he attempts--with mixed results-- to protect from his own paternal history of addiction, imaginatively sadistic abu...more

I remember spotting this book on a rainy day while killing some time in a Northampton bookstore with a friend of mine post our five year college reunion. I loved the look of the book (go go book cover design gadget) I loved the pink and the people and the names of the novel's, intoxicating when read all together in one breath - Bad News, Never Mind, Some Hope and Mother's Milk. I took a picture so I could remember to hunt for it at the library. Then I read a recommendation for the book from Ann...more
Mary Grace Walsh
I have mixed feelings about this saga. It's very well written. Never Mind lays the ground work for Patrick Melrose life; or at least gives him all the excuses he procedes to underscore his life with. Bad News is just that in spades. Up close and personal with a drug addict's angst,the desperation of the search for the next fix etc.. Probably more than most of us want to know. My favorite is Some Hope. The house party, in the country of course, is a hoot. Princess Margaret attends and if the port...more
May 13, 2013 Margaret rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Everyone who values great writing.
Recommended to Margaret by: My daughter Jen. Thank you.
This volume contains the first four Patrick Melrose novels (Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, and Mother’s Milk), collected and reprinted to accompany the 2012 publication of Edward St. Aubyn’s At Last, the fifth and final Patrick Melrose novel. All five books together come to less than a thousand pages; reading them as one long novel works well. I found these first four books brilliant but hard to take at the outset. On page one you see St. Aubyn’s ability to quick sketch a character in very few...more
Michael Berman
I'm not sure what I can add that hasn't been said by other reviewers. This series of novels is funny, poignant, searing, and unique. Most of all, it's an unsparing look at the damage that parents bring upon their children, both through their base motivations, but also through their desire to avoid the mistakes of *their* parents.

In lesser hands, the story of the self-loathing Patrick Melrose would be cliched, but St. Aubyn's language and observations are so cutting that the reader understands Pa...more
This is junk lit for people who fancy themselves thinkers. I was totally into it at first, but I’m not sure I was up for four back to back novellas inside Patrick’s endlessly, helplessly spinning gears. In the first few there was a certain frantic quality to Patrick’s spin towards the bottom, a centrifugal force that was impossible to look away from. His 48 hour drug binge through Manhattan, his tales of social life with the titled- that was the show I came to see. St. Aubyn can writewritewrite,...more
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Edward St Aubyn was born in London in 1960. He was educated at Westminster school and Keble college, Oxford University. He is the author of six novels, the most recent of which, ‘Mother’s Milk’, was shortlisted for the 2006 Man Booker Prize, won the 2007 Prix Femina Etranger and won the 2007 South Bank Show award on literature.

His first novel, ‘Never Mind’ (1992) won the Betty Trask award. This no...more
More about Edward St. Aubyn...
Mother's Milk At Last Never Mind (The Patrick Melrose Novels, #1) Bad News (The Patrick Melrose Novels, #2) Some Hope: A Trilogy

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“Everything was usual. That was depression: being stuck, clinging to an out-of-date version of oneself.” 8 likes
“Looking after children can be a subtle way of giving up... They become the whole ones, the well ones, the postponement of happiness, the ones who won't drink too much, give up, get divorced, become mentally ill. The part of oneself that's fighting against decay and depression is transferred to guarding them from decay and depression. In the meantime one decays and gets depressed.” 5 likes
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