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A Spot of Bother

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  21,432 ratings  ·  2,450 reviews
A Washington Post Best Book of the YearA Spot of Bother is Mark Haddon’s unforgettable follow-up to the internationally beloved bestseller The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. At sixty-one, George Hall is settling down to a comfortable retirement. When his tempestuous daughter, Katie, announces that she is getting married to the deeply inappropriate Ray, the...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published August 14th 2007 by Vintage (first published 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Patrick
Dec 22, 2007 Patrick rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: no one
I pretty much hated this book. It was the type of book that you read because you liked the author's other work, but it's so aggressively bad that it makes you reconsider whether or not you actually liked the author's previous work upon closer consideration.

So what was so bad about it? Well, for the one the characters simply didn't ring true. They all felt poorly sketched out, just a bunch of people having what Haddon would have you believe are constant epiphanies about their sad little lives. He...more
Pierce
As we approach the end of my first year of recorded and reviewed reading, I have read almost no bad books. The Fermata was bad, but the guy could write, he just decided to write something we all thought was fucking awful.

This was a bad book.

Oh how do I hate this book? Let me count the ways:

1) Every word in this novel is written in conversational, lazy prose. "Absolutely" is used repeatedly for emphasis. "Cue" something or other. The kind of verbal junk we are all guilty of in verbal conversation...more
jo
Jan 29, 2009 jo rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: linda
i don't know why people who've read the curious incident of the dog in the night-time would find this second novel a let-down. it seems to me equally tender, sweet, and heartbreaking. it's also hilariously funny. haddon does heartbreaking and funny with such grace, simplicity, and verbal virtuosity, it's wonderful. i admire this writer greatly.

what i admire most about him is that he shows us the behavior of "crazy" people who do "crazy" things from the inside, and from the inside these crazy th...more
Jeremy Zerbe
People going into Mark Haddon's latest novel, A Spot of Bother expecting anything like his smash-hit debut, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time are going to be sorely disappointed. And rightfully so, because if Haddon had reproduced the same sort of story as he did in his first novel, we'd all be complaining about how he was such a one-trick pony. In fact, I'm glad he got the unconvential work that is The Curious Incident out of the way first, so that he can now settle himself into...more
MJ Nicholls
This book made Curious Incident fans wail and gnash their teeth in 2006. Who knows how Haddon’s reputation fares today, following the lukewarm response to this breezy domestic drama? I get the impression children’s voices are more his forte, what with being a bestselling kids' author and all. In fact, some of the best lines in this book belong to the toddler Jacob and revolve around poo and ice cream. But this is hardly worth a literary excommunication. It is the sort of book only established au...more
Kirsten
Jan 22, 2008 Kirsten rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Kirsten by: NPR
A very entertaining and intelligent "page-turner", which is a rare combination of traits. As a story told from four well-written viewpoints, it succeeds in evoking an emotional connection with the characters. But I worry about too much modern fiction presenting the literary equivalent of short serial television episodes all jumbled together in something described as a novel.

I suppose readers' attention spans are becoming shorter, but should fiction really cater to that fact? There is definitely...more
Kaion
A Spot of Bother is an alternating-POV story about going quietly mad and loudly sane, and love under all our layers of repression and confusion: There’s newly-retired dad George, politely failing to bury his increasing obsessive thoughts of mortality under a zest for home renovations. Mom Jean, already balancing familial duty and work and volunteering, is just trying to find more time for her passionate affair with a long-time acquaintance. Their outspoken grown-up daughter Katie intends to marr...more
Lila
Dec 15, 2007 Lila rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any adult
First the quibbles: Haddon's a young guy. He has a young guy's perspective, which is to say, a limited perspective. His portrayals of the middle-aged are in places laughable. Mark, I've got to tell you: people over fifty don't think the world belongs to the young. They don't think they're obsolete. It's young people who think that about their elders. Youngsters are often (not always) better at the very latest technology, but that's their only advantage. Well, that, and the good health they take...more
Seth Hahne
I'm not really sure what to say about this one. I really can't generate strong feelings one way or another on its behalf. It wasn't bad but it wasn't good - and conversely, it wasn't good but it wasn't bad. It had likable moments and parts that I laughed at. And some of Haddon's descriptions were priceless (e.g., the "chickeny scrotum" bit). But then there was the rest of it. I kept feeling that if it was either good or bad, I would have relished finishing it so that I could relish talking about...more
Joe
Sep 27, 2007 Joe rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ilse
Having read Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, I expected my sophomore foray into Haddon's style of novel-writing to be a bit of a departure. If you don't know already the book was written from the point-of-view of a boy with Asperger's Syndrome (a functional form of Autism) and delivered with a fair amount of empathy that warmed the reader to an otherwise antisocial and charmless character.

However, I felt that even from an omniscient point-of-view, Haddon hardly piqued my personal...more
Susan
Hilarious!!!! What a wonderful story, that kept me laughing the whole time. Haddon does a wonderful job giving his characters life. It made me wonder what I'll be like when I retire will I be as crazy and eccentric as the main character.
Uci
It's like rain in your wedding day
It's a free ride when you've already paid
It's a good advice that you just didn't take
and who would've thought...it figures

Ironic by Alanis Morisette

George Hall menjalani hidupnya tanpa neko-neko. Menikah, punya anak, punya rumah dan pekerjaan yang bagus, pokoknya segala hal yang sepatutnya dimiliki lelaki baik-baik. Namun memasuki masa pensiun, tiba-tiba berbagai masalah menjungkirbalikkan hidupnya yang sempurna. Putrinya Katie akan melangsungkan pernikahan kedu...more
Kinga
Firstly, I'd like to point out I have NOT read The Curious Incident.. but given the hype surrounding the author I was expecting big things.
To be honest, if this was his first book we probably wouldn't know who Mark Haddon is. I am not sure it would even get published. It doesn't mean it's a completely bad book - it will keep you hooked during that morning tube ride, but it doesn't stand out.
Considering the profoundness of the characters epiphanies you could think the author is ten years old. T...more
Angela
Dear Budding Indie Film-maker,

I know how tempted you are to turn this quirky little book into a quirky little movie. You've mentally cast James Cromwell as the family patriarch who's sure the excema on his leg is actually cancer. You know just how the camera will close in on the faces of the actors as they make realizations that will change their life.

And you're really looking forward to filming some of the genuinely sweet and funny scenes, knowing the audience will roar with laughter while wipi...more
Patrick Tobin
I suspect this novel was whipped up to fulfill the second book of the author's deal with the publisher -- and given the phenomenal success of the author's first book, the publisher went ahead with it. "A Spot Of Bother" lacks any of the precision and warmth and surprise of "A Curious..." Chapters read like outlines jotted down in a notebook. Hypochondriac dad: check. Philandering mother: check. Bitch sister: check. Gay brother: check.

The book only comes alive -- briefly, and then slips back int...more
Helen (Helena/Nell)
First (for me) there was The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I still remember how I cried at the end, wept buckets, loved it. Then there was the book of poetry, The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea. Great title. What was inside did little for me. And now, remaindered, hard-back, handsome, A Spot of Bother.

Expectations were lowered after the damp-squib poetry. Perhaps that was good because very quickly this novel started to delight me. It’s all relations...more
Jessica Baxter
oh i loved this! haddon induces the same empathy for these characters as he did for the boy in curious incident, which is a much harder task considering that these characters are just flawed self-absorbed adults and not children suffering from mental illness. by flawed self-absorbed adults i of course mean me and you. he has a remarkable talent for dialogue and delivery, which is, to me, the trickiest thing to do well. you dont want to put it down, and you dont want it to end, and you so badly w...more
Lori
Who doesn't love a story about a retired husband and father slowly but surely losing his mind?

Part hypochondriac, Part neuroses, sprinkle in some anxiety and panic attacks, and a vision of something that no man should ever have to witness first hand -- and it's fun for the whole family.

Speaking of family, this ones got LOADS of issues! All the better to make you appreciate what you have.

Cleverly written, it had me turning pages like a maniac. I was dying to find out what was going to happen next...more
Lucie
if you can get past the first 200 pages, this turns out to be a vaguely compelling read. but really, getting through the 1st 200 pages of someone's book, just for the remaining 80 pages isn't my idea of a fun time. if only it was a nice little novella or short story! it ultimately was an ok experience for me, just lacks the charm & focus of haddon's earlier lovely CURIOUS CASE...too bad!
Jennifer (aka EM)
Plodded through the first half, but glad to have persisted. I didn't warm to the characters right away and Haddon took a while to develop their voices. Interesting, because characters were stuck in their ruts, and the writing itself seemed weighed down by that. Or perhaps, especially in comparison to The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time with its single character focus, Haddon had so many personalities on his hands that he needed a while to wrestle each of them into form and get them...more
Charles
Reviews of this book on GR were rather mixed. But, as my book group had decided that this would be our book this month, I forged ahead, trepidant and unenthused.

I liked Curious Incident... I liked it a lot. It had a charm, a sweetness, an appeal that resonated with many readers. I have recommended it to many, usually with good response.

But, in comparing these books, I have come accross a rather critical observation: they are different books! I appreciate, and agree, with other reviewers who have...more
Ellen R
I picked this book up because, frankly, I wanted the bragging rights. I'd enjoyed the Dog in the Nighttime, so I figured that this might be of the same caliber.

How wrong I was.

This was one of the most exhausting reads I've ever endured. In fact, the only book I've ever enjoyed as little as this was Stephen King's Insomnia. The family that took center stage in this unthrilling tale was dysfunctional enough to make it into the pages of a Jacqueline Wilson novel. I get that every family have their...more
Faith Spinks
Like many others I really enjoyed Mark Haddon's book of 'The Curious Incident of the dog in the Night-Time' so I began 'A Spot of Bother' with high hopes.

George is having a tough time of it as his daughter Katie announces she is getting married to someone who her family is not keen on. His son Jamie is coming to terms with his own life choices when his partner Tony walks out on him, while his parents are still trying to come to terms with the lifestyle Jamie has chosen. George discovers a lesio...more
Leonora
This book was much better than I thought it would be. I found myself drawn into it unlike other novels which lately don't seem to hold my interest.

The writing style is completely different from "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time" which was refreshing. He showed ability in this book to write a normal, even typical, story.

What drew me in was the same thing that drew me to Herman Hesse. He uncannily describes emotions that I've felt on almost every page. Hesse does that brilliant...more
Brynn
Aug 20, 2007 Brynn rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jihan
Shelves: summer2007
"Talking was, in George's opinion, overrated. You could not turn the television on these days without seeing someone discussing their adoption or explaining why they had stabbed their husband. Not that he was averse to talking. Talking was one of life's pleasures. And everyone needed to sound off now and then over a pint of Ruddles about colleagues who did not shower frequently enough, or teenage sons who had returned home drunk in the small hours and thrown up in the dog's basket. But it did no...more
Trin
Okay, here's how this breaks down:

Book about a real-life serial killer
Trin: I think I'll read this my first night in a strange, new apartment, in an unfamiliar neighborhood, when I'm all alone, and almost all the lights are off! La la la!

Book featuring one plot thread about a man's slow descent into madness, including a scene of botched self-surgery
Trin: *hides under the bed* *whimpers*

Yeah. I found this novel very hard to get through—which, if anything, should I suppose be a compliment to Haddo...more
Neesha
Although I can see why certain fans don't like this one as much as Haddon's first book, I liked it just as well. It has the same flavor as the first, but with multiple main characters instead of just one. Mark Haddon still does a fantastic job of showing rather than telling in terms of his characters--he really has a wonderful way of letting the reader get inside the characters' heads. I think that was part of what made his first novel great, and he has held onto that in this one. What made this...more
John
Well-written and entertaining, but ultimately a bit of a bore. All the arguing and complaining that Haddon's characters continually engage in starts to grate on one's nerves after a while. Even the little kid in the story was more annoying than he was cute. The homosexual encounters were unnecessarily graphic, and Haddon's occasional digs at Christianity come across as needlessly pissy. Haddon was apparently attempting to push people's buttons a bit with this one, perhaps wanting to distance him...more
Kristen
Although this was enjoyable enough to read, I was still fairly disappointed in it, even taking into account the fact that I didn't expect too much out of it in the first place (for self-preservational reasons, since Haddon's first novel is one of my favorites). See, it turns out that the detached, observational tone of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, which I thought worked so brilliantly for that book's narrator, is actually just the way Haddon writes. All the time. Even though...more
Sarah
Mark Haddon writes of a middle-aged man named George Hall, who is struggling with retirement, his gay son and his boyfriend, his daughter announcing a man he doesn't like, and his wife, who is having an affair with his ex-colleague. Because of all of this, George begins to lose it.

The story revolves around each of the characters, told from the 3rd person omniscient, weaving their problems and thoughts around one another. The book is extremely engaging and I found myself immediately drawn in eac...more
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Mark Haddon is a British novelist and poet, best known for his 2003 novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. He was educated at Uppingham School and Merton College, Oxford, where he studied English.

In 2003, Haddon won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and in 2004, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Overall Best First Book for his novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-t...more
More about Mark Haddon...
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time The Red House Boom! The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (Stage Adaptation) The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea: Poems

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“And it occurred to him that there were two parts to being a better person. One part was thinking about other people. The other part was not giving a toss what other people thought.” 95 likes
“You love someone, you've got to let something go.” 47 likes
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