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The Patrick Melrose Novels

(Patrick Melrose #1-4)

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  5,846 ratings  ·  787 reviews

An Atlantic Magazine Best Book of the Year
Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

For more than twenty years, acclaimed author Edward St. Aubyn has chronicled the life of Patrick Melrose, painting an extraordinary portrait of the beleaguered and self-loathing world of privilege. This single volume collects the first four novels—Never Mind, Bad News, Som
Paperback, 680 pages
Published January 31st 2012 by Picador (first published 2012)
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Average rating 4.04  · 
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 ·  5,846 ratings  ·  787 reviews

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Sep 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Investors talk often about risk-return tradeoffs. The more volatile an asset is, the higher the expected return has to be to want to hold it. The four short books packaged together as The Patrick Melrose Novels are at the extreme end of the risk-return spectrum. Edward St. Aubyn took big chances hoping the rewards would be commensurate. He risked alienating readers at every turn with characters who are loathsome or over-exposed. And with the depth of the interior development, the potential losse ...more
Aug 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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.) ...more
Jan 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
George Witte
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 28, 2015 added it
Shelves: abandoned
Page 329. So, that's it. I will not continue with this book. It is rare that you read a book that has not a single likeable person in it. The main character is repulsive, all people around him disgusting, scheming, mean and, if that sounds interesting, no, even if you wish it would, it is not. The story develops like in an extra glossy very mean gossip magazine. If the intention of the author is to make you sick of these people, he certainly succeeded with me. Sorry, perhaps you have to belong t ...more
Patrick Brown
Dec 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Malena Watrous
Jan 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: have
Apart from the heartbreak of the protagonist's atrocious and cruel childhood, it was the exquisite prose and incredibly brilliant speech of St. Aubyn that blew me away. This, for me, is not only one of the most gorgeously written novels in the English language, but also conveys a profound understanding of the essence of the human mind.

What irritated me to no end was the tasteless cover of my edition, which would fit better to a sleazy novel than to this masterpiece.
Mar 10, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sonyreader
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
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Julie Ehlers
Jan 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
I can understand why the U.S. publisher decided to release these four short novels in one volume: Once the fifth book was ready to be released, some excitement needed to be drummed up on this side of the Atlantic, but getting readers enthused about four separate novels by an author they’d never heard of before, in preparation for a fifth, was a tall order. Better, for that purpose, to release the first four as one long book.

That justification aside, I don’t necessarily feel it works to read the
Jun 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
toward the end of some hope, a snooty princess spells out what these novels are all about:

'It must be funny having the same name as so many other people,' she speculated. 'I suppose there are hundreds of John Halls up and down the country.'
'It teaches one to look for distinction elsewhere and not to rely on an accident of birth,' said Johnny casually.
'That's where people go wrong,' said the Princess, compressing her lips, 'there is no accident in birth.'
She swept on before Johnny had a chance
Gary  the Bookworm
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos If 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 dec ...more
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
The level of aristo-gloom in these novels is sky-high. The writing is absolutely superb (love the imagery), but the cast of characters started to wear me down after a while. There is only so much snobbish condescension I can stomach. I may have benefited more from these novels if they weren’t all merged together. I do like the main character, his voice, sharp and funny. In many ways, this reads as an extended exorcism of the demons this author has had to experience and carry. So it can be heavy ...more
May 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, british-lit
On a recent trip to New England, I breezed through these four novels (the first four of the five Patrick Melrose novels), inspired by the New Yorker's recent profile of St. Aubyn. The first (Never Mind) and last (Mother's Milk) novels were my favorites; although I think Never Mind is the most powerful and affecting of all of them. The practice of reading all four novels in quick succession was also beneficial, I think, rather than having to wait years in between them; they all build upon and ref ...more
Jan 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
May 16, 2012 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
Judith Hannan
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Magdalena Wajda
Jun 02, 2018 rated it liked it
A very well written book about horrible people from the British upper class. Shallow, stupid, conceited, snotty, hurtful and cruel people. Not ones I would like to shake hands with.
In literary terms, it's Downton Abbey meets Trainspotting.
The New York part, especially the drug-seeking, drug-taking and drug-experiencing sequence is a brilliant, high-speed ride with plenty of literary and cultural allusions. This was the most fascinating and the most repulsive part.
Ayelet Waldman
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Reread all of these. They're every bit as good as the first few times I read them. ...more
Loraine Despres
Jun 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating look at the British upper class, their wit and depravity.
May 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Andrew Schirmer
Apr 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: anglophilia
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
Apr 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 26, 2014 rated it liked it
Sour. That's the word that kept going through my mind as I read The Patrick Melrose Novels. These novellas are filled with sour people who have sour children and think sour thoughts. Maybe it's a British thing, but these characters are so filled with bitterness and contempt that it grates on you (well, it grated on me) after a while. But there is such wonderful writing in between the cracks here that kept me pushing ahead. The first book, Never Mind, and the last, Mother's Milk really have some ...more
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Something a little different from me today. Not a review as such, but some overarching reflections on this exceptional series of novels, which I gobbled up over the course of a week back in April during my recovery from a major fracture. I’d already had a bit of a false start back in February with the first book in the series, Never Mind; but then again, a six-hour session in A&E was probably not the ideal environment in which to read a story as brutal and hard-hitting as this. (Perversely, it w ...more
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Huntsville-Madiso...: Staff Pick - The Patrick Melrose Novels 1 7 Aug 30, 2019 11:10AM  

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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

Other books in the series

Patrick Melrose (5 books)
  • Never Mind
  • Bad News (Patrick Melrose, #2)
  • Some Hope
  • Mother's Milk
  • At Last

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