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

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  4,040 Ratings  ·  629 Reviews

An Atlantic Magazine Best Book of the Year
Publishers 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, pai
Paperback, 680 pages
Published January 31st 2012 by Picador (first published 2012)
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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
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.)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Gary  the Bookworm
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
E' stata una piacevolissima scoperta quest'epopea familiare – o questo moderno Bildungsroman – preso per curiosità, più che dando credito alla fascetta e alle innumerevoli lodi di scrittori contemporanei.

Ciò che colpisce e lega subito è la scrittura bellissima, elegante e profonda a un tempo nel tratteggiare caratteri, stati d'animo e situazioni, oltre al tema o i temi cardine, affatto banali o facili da trattare. Si parla di abusi sui minori, in questo libro, e la crudissima scena narrata quasi
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
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 thes
May 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
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.
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
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
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
M. D.  Hudson
Aug 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Like virtually all contemporary novels, The Patrick Melrose Novels (PMN from here on out) were oversold (most recently by The Atlantic). But not entirely oversold...there is much that is worthy in these four slender novels. Whether it is enough for all the praise and prizes I am not entirely convinced, but these were better than a lot of novels I've encountered recently.

The big event that the reviewers always talk about is the rape, at age five, of the protagonist Patrick Melrose, by his father
Lily MacKenzie
Jan 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
How Can Anyone Out Iago Iago?

I’m usually not drawn to a book series, and the only reason I chose Edward St. Aubyn’s The Complete Patrick Melrose Novels is because I got a great introductory deal from Audible. All five of these books were on one tape for the same price I would have paid for a single audio edition. The Scot in me couldn’t resist getting a deal, and I thought I could tolerate listening to it during my long commutes in rush hour traffic to and from San Francisco.

Another bonus? The
Richard Kramer
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
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.
Jun 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very bleak. I know the man was abused as a child....but dear Lord...get over it. I only recommend if you are depressed already. Need something light and cheery after this.
Apr 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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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 about Edward St. Aubyn...

Other Books in the Series

Patrick Melrose (5 books)
  • Never Mind (The Patrick Melrose Novels, #1)
  • Bad News (The Patrick Melrose Novels, #2)
  • Some Hope (The Patrick Melrose Novels, #3)
  • Mother's Milk (The Patrick Melrose Novels, #4)
  • At Last (Patrick Melrose #5)

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“Everything was usual. That was depression: being stuck, clinging to an out-of-date version of oneself.” 19 likes
“He found her pretty in a bewildered, washed-out way, but it was her restlessness that aroused him, the quiet exasperation of a woman who longs to throw herself into something significant, but cannot find what it is.” 14 likes
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