Never Mind (Patrick Melrose Novels #1)
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Never Mind (The Patrick Melrose Novels #1)

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  1,437 ratings  ·  241 reviews
In the first Patrick Melrose novel, five-year-old Patrick encounters the volatile lives of adults. His father rules with considered cruelty and his mother has retreated into drink. They are expecting guests for dinner. But this afternoon is unlike the chain of summer days before, and the shocking events that precede the guests' arrival tear Patrick's world in two.
Paperback, 197 pages
Published 2012 by Picador (first published 1992)
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Paul
I read this in one insomniac go (last night), it was like eating a whole box of chocolate coated scorpions, crunch crunch, their little exoskeletons shattering on my palate and the poison flooding all my internal organs and me saying mmm-mmm, more please. How Edward St Aubyn managed to dodge my book radar for so long is a mystery, I may have to complain to the shop where I bought it. He's deliciously horrible and horribly delicious. Essentially this is book one of a five-book tone poem of steady...more
Eric
St. Aubyn does not, at least in this first book of the series, write especially well from the child’s point of view – and so the notoriously autobiographical rape is somehow less horrifying than it ought to be. Otherwise this is perfect, if at times slight. The prose is cool and pointed. The dialogue is almost never boring. The Melrose marriage made me think of The Portrait of a Lady but the Osmond figure is a real aristocrat, who augments Osmond’s cultured and covert emotional aggression with b...more
Szplug
It is obvious from the very opening paragraphs of Never Mind that St. Aubyn can write with a skillful elegance that summons the descriptor effortless from the vocabular storage banks held recessed in the depths behind one's eyes; and nowhere does this compositional ease display itself more readily than in the dialogue between the handful of English aristocrats and upper-class aspirants, vacationing within the coastal inclines of Provence, who comprise the cast of this early nineties novel. He ca...more
Lori
Last week (the week of March 12, 2012), I read a review in the New York Times of Edward St. Aubyn's fifth and final entry in a quintet of novels, referred to as The Patrick Melrose Novels. I became so intrigued from the review that I immediately downloaded all five of the books and started at the beginning. I'm so glad I did. Mr. St. Aubyn is a master of the craft of writing, designing sentences that are nearly musical in their balance. His story is not a comfortable one, delving into the worst...more
Lili
The reviewer who said Edward St. Aubyn "most brilliant novelist of his generation" must have read a different book to me. I hoped at each turn of a page I would find something to like about this book, I didn't, I found it a boring tale about boring and obnoxious people.
christa
I know that a little extra excitement about a book really triggers my hyperbole button and it’s hard to dodge the exclamation points whizzing from my pores, but it’s happened again and I can’t shut up. I loved “Never Mind,” the first book of Edward St. Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose series. Love-loved. Mind blown, loved. My only regret is that I read it on Kindle, so I wasn’t able to snap it shut, sigh and set it on my bosom. Instead I did a less satisfying flick of a switch, closing of a case, bounce...more
Ben Loory
it's kinda like iris murdoch meets bret easton ellis. i can see why everyone's going crazy about this guy (he's very funny and his prose is propulsive and addictive) and i will probably go on to read the rest of the books. on the other hand, all the characters sort of slide into each other, it's very depressing, and the book doesn't really stand on its own. but i look forward to seeing the kinds of hell patrick goes through. and the kinds of hell he inflicts along the way.
Antonomasia
Whilst St Aubyn's books were mentioned quite a bit in the Sunday papers when I was a teenager, I'd since forgotten about him or, rather, conflated him with Augusten Burroughs - until last summer when a friend's reviews reminded me.

I have to agree that most of this book is far from enjoyable in the general sense, but it is very good. (I found it nowhere near so intense and draining as some Bergman films, however, and for a moment couldn't decide whether to write this or start the next instalment...more
Kat
The writing is amazing, as are the author's powers of observation and commentary. A funny thing happened to me when I was reading this book. When I was actually reading it, I was enormously impressed by the author's talent, but when I put it down, I had no desire to get back to it. It took me 4 weeks to read this slim 132 page novel!!! This is because of what happens in the book. I do not want to give things away, but the central character, David Melrose, is an utterly loathsome, depraved charac...more
Alex Sarll
The reviews (unanimous in praise, so far as I can tell) compare this to Waugh and, bafflingly, Wodehouse - who to my recollection never featured a rapist as a lead character. I think a closer comparison for this luminously-written tale of terrible people would be Saki, but just imagine having to put up with a typical Saki protagonist for the length of an entire novel, even a short one like this. Worse, imagine that when they've grown up and are beginning to suffer the sneaking suspicion that the...more
Cheryl
Exhaustingly, relentlessly cutting. St. Aubyn is exacting his revenge on his parents and their ilk, by using their own weapons -- words -- with deadly precision.
Scott
Very well-written, but icky. I choose not to spend my time reading about unpleasant Brits, damaged by class and too much money and leisure, doing unpleasant things to themselves and others. Is this meant to be an object lesson about what happens when people become estranged from any sense of communal responsibility? Give me Downton Abbey instead! :)
Brian
St. Aubyn's characters are angry, mean-spirited, belligerent, and some are positively Darwinian. He seems to have contempt for all but one of them and the knowledge that he experienced some of the abuse in real-life does not excuse the retelling, nor make me want to continue.
Eirene Hogan
It showed a tiny bit of promise, but after having read the second book of the series I have given up on them all. The only people who would like this series of books is the very type the author is sending up. Some compare him to Oscar Wilde. What??? Because he sends up the upper English classes? But Oscar does is with wit and style.

The book goes for just under 200 pages and on page 100 something of interest finally happened. That made the whole story promising, but I'm not waiting around to rea...more
Jody
Two chapters in and you can tell, St. Aubyn is a revelation. His sentences are of the same 'high wire act' school similar to Ian McEwan, both so reverential to their English predecessors. But my complaint about the book is that at 133 pages, every word, every conversation, every description has to count. And yet a good portion of the chapters stray away to other events that have no impact on the novel as a whole. Switching back and forth between narrators works, but he should have stuck with our...more
Will Clarke
Brilliant, nasty satire of the British upper class. Perhaps because the author is so unquestionably a member of said class there is none of that lingering desire to ascend, or to strive upwards. St. Aubyn and his characters have, for the most part, made it. This book is about how horrible it truly is. In an era of the 1%, America needs a St. Aubyn. Or perhaps, we just need to read about Patrick Melrose's truly horrid family and friends. Bravo. Some of the best, most concise and effective writing...more
Corey
If this first book in the Patrick Melrose novels is any indication no wonder everyone is reading Edward St. Aubyn right now. Crackling dialogue, insightful character analysis, and page-turning happenstances, plus just about the meanest monster I've encountered in fiction in a while. And you get great bitchy dialogue like this: "The woman on my right was really quite appalling. I suppose someone told her long ago that she had a pretty chin, and so she decided to get another one, and another, and...more
Bee
I heard an interview with St Aubyn and - despite doubt around the parallels with St Aubyn's own awful childhood and the "semi-autobiographical" novels he writes - decided I'd like to read them.

It also helped that all the books have recommendations by famous authors like Zadie Smith plastered on the front cover. He is - according to these F.A. the modern equivalent to Wilde, Wodehouse and Waugh. Well, it is true that St Aubyn can write clever, scalpel sharp prose. It is used with great efficiency...more
Andrea
Read in one intense session on a plane. This is pertinent because I really really needed to go outside to clear my head and shake off all the nastiness. Perhaps being trapped intensified the tangle of emotions. As soon as I landed in transit I downloaded the next four books.
Much thanks to Andrew for recommending.
Katherine
Never Mind was a quick read, but a resonating one. It left me with the sense that I had delved into something quite epic, though brief. Luckily, it's the first installment in the Patrick Melrose Novels series, but I'm hesitant to leap into the next one just yet.

I forget who recommended this series to me, but they obviously understand my book tastes very well. Never Mind is caustically hilarious, utterly heartbreaking, and surprisingly philosophical. And it's the perfect mix of these things (tho...more
Patrick
I knew nothing at all about Edward St Aubyn when I bought this book, other than that he's a very well regarded author of literary fiction. It was the kind of impulse buy that occurs to me in a bookshop when I spy a name on a spine which indicates a small deficiency in my awareness, so I picked up the book and flicked to the first page and liked what I saw so I bought it. And then I read it in two sittings over the course of a weekend — it isn’t very long — and I thought it was excellent, and now...more
Pam
I can't believe I've never read St. Aubyn. Seriously this guy just throws out pithy, memorable sentences like a modern-day, British upper-crust Twain. I spent the entire novel with a pen in my hand underlining his sentences. Fair warning, he doesn't draw likable characters. It is the first of the series and gives us a window into 5 year old Patrick Melrose's world. His father is truly despicable and if I didn't know there were some fantastic books in this series, I would have stopped after the f...more
T


It is all too rare that a book or author is recommended effusively and yet manages to live up to the report. Edward St Aubyn is such a one. One reaches for parallels -- PG Wodehouse crossed with Sam Shepard -- and they impress but still cannot quite elucidate. There is something blistering and yet precise of phrase that places St Aubyn in a direct lineage from Oscar Wilde and Evelyn Waugh. Indeed, there is humor and satire here, but it is defiant, audacious, as telling and objective and intimate...more
Nikki Shaver
This is the first book in a five-part series, and I felt after finishing it that I had really just read an extraordinary introduction to a larger story. Which is not to say that this book is not satisfying in and of itself - it is, deeply so - it just left me ready to immediately plunge into book two (which I did, by the way - with the next review to follow promptly).

I have had two people (one of them my erudite, extremely well-read mother) recently recommend St Aubyn's Patrick Melrose series to...more
Nancy
St. Aubyn's books are generally referred to as a satirical look at the British class system. As I embark on this series of Patrick Melrose novels I find myself reading Book #1 as a horror story.

I am amused by the snarky witticisms St. Aubyn's characters routinely deliver in their studied way.
And, I am simultaneously horrified by the cruelty of the behaviour they exhibit. I won't say I'm not intrigued by the book, but I am grateful it is a slim volume. The nastiness and pettiness of the character...more
Alvin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kevin
I'll recommend this book to anyone with a taste for the literary, and a tolerance for depictions of genuine human darkness.

St. Aubyn's prose is worth reading. His sentences are simple and clean and effective. He's an insightful and intelligent observer of human behavior (specializing in upper class twits, it seems), and he draws the inner lives of his characters with a coldly funny and original wit.
So that's lovely.

The story, however, is brutal. A young child of the British upper class is abused...more
Bobby
Nevermind immerses us in one bizarre day in the lives of a small circle of friends. Of course, they're miserable and rich, so everyone hates each other and the term "friends" is relative.

Something tragic happens on this day in the Melrose family. This event is the only movement in the story that carries any narrative weight, which would have been FINE, except for the fact that we don't spend nearly enough time following those directly involved in this event. Instead, we bob and weave through en...more
Rick
Edward St. Aubyn casts judgement on a cold blooded group of English aristocrats and the sad souls that are locked in romantic /family relationships with them. St. Aubyn was apparently raped by his British peer father in real life and his harrowing account of 5 year old Patrick Melrose's violation is brutally cold and almost clinical. The father is a monster but one capable of brittle snarky insults that entertain the reader even as the general behavior of these aristo alcoholic social climbers a...more
William
"David grinned. He was in the mood for fun. After all, what redeemed life from complete horror was the almost unlimited number of things to be nasty about."

Well there's no shortage of nasty fun here. I guess I'm a bit late to The Patrick Melrose Novels party, but let me tell you, in the hands of Edward St Aubyn, it's a party that will sicken you one moment and entertain you the next. It's all a very ugly, harrowing hoot!

Truly horrible things happen in Never Mind, and they are delivered to us by...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
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“In my rather brief medical practice,' said David modestly, 'I found that people spend their whole lives imagining they are about to die. Their only consolation is that one day they're right.” 2 likes
“At the beginning, there had been talk of using some of her money to start a home for alcoholics. In a sense they had succeeded.” 0 likes
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