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Never Mind

(Patrick Melrose #1)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  8,514 ratings  ·  980 reviews
Never Mind, the first installment in Edward St. Aubyn's wonderful, wry, and profound Patrick Melrose Cycle, follows five-year-old Patrick through a single day, as the Melrose family awaits the arrival of guests. Bright and imaginative, young Patrick struggles daily to contend with the searing cruelty of his father and the resignation of his embattled mother. But on this da ...more
Hardcover, 181 pages
Published December 1992 by William Heinemann
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Average rating 3.78  · 
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 ·  8,514 ratings  ·  980 reviews

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Paul Bryant
Oct 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: novels
Update :

Oho! what fun! Sky have just filmed this and its nasty siblings with none other than Benedict Cumberbatch as Patrick Melrose... a perfect choice, nay, an inevitable choice. The Guardian describes the first episode as

a 60-minute near-monologue of craving, raving, shaking and sarcasm – occasionally interrupted by immigration officials, drug dealers, undertakers and relatives – as Melrose, in early 1980s New York, tries to collect his dead father’s ashes from a funeral parlour. Has any ac
Oct 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I cannot get over how brilliant Edward St Aubyn is! Not since Jane Austen have I encountered a voice that so manages to belong, at one at and the same time, to the character and to the author and with such adept English irony. Sarcasm, acerbic dialogue and caustic wit fairly drip from St Aubyn’s pen. I can only wonder how on earth this author has managed to fly under my radar all these years. Well, no more. I ordered the two next installments in his Patrick Melrose pentalogy when I was about hal ...more
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"He directed a heavy stream of water from the hose he held in his left hand onto the column of ants moving busily through the gravel at his feet. His technique was well established: he would let the survivors struggle over the wet stones, and regain their dignity for a while, before bringing the thundering water down on them again."
Thus are we introduced to David Melrose, one of the most hideous characters I've ever encountered in literature. He treats people, including his wife and son, with th
May 16, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Feb 14, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
My first time reading a novel by Edward St. Aubyn.

Never Mind is the first novel in the Patrick Melrose cycle.

Patrick Melrose aged 5, living at his mother’s house in the France. The cast of characters are upper class in the 1960s. Lots of drugs, pills, and various sleeping partners.

Patrick is aching for love and affection from his parents, but he is alone, he got no companions or siblings.

His father David: wanted to be a musician , not allowed, so he joined the army and became a physician. Hi
Aug 03, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: paperback, novel
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. ...more
Gumble's Yard
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012
Series of 5 (or 3) books based around the life of Patrick Melrose (the first three novellas are typically published together).

Extremely good writing - beautiful use of language and real philosophical insight into a complex set of unappealing characters. In some ways reminiscent of Andreï Makine in writing style and (consciously) of Proust Marcel in its reflections on the past and portrait of a rich but declining generation. Semi-autobiographical the book's main theme is the effect of one's chil
Mar 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this first of his Patrick Melrose novels, Edward St Aubyn brilliantly captures the lives and manners of a group of English upper class couples living in indolence and luxury on holiday in the south of France. Patrick is a small boy of five who is mostly neglected by his alcoholic, pill-popping mother and bullied my his brutal father. I did not particularly enjoy this book and don't think I will read further in the series, as I found the characters distasteful and nasty but really that just sh ...more
Jan 06, 2013 rated it did not like it
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! :)
Roman Clodia
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After all, what redeemed life from complete horror was the almost unlimited number of things to be nasty about.

Packed into a scant 135 pages (in my edition) is a world of cruelty, of brutish and deliberate superciliousness, of precise and measured mental and physical sadism - told through a voice which is detached, dry and deadpan in its disturbing wit.

It's the latter which prevents this from falling into sentimental misery-memoir territory: for example, as neglected, brutalized 5-year old
Feb 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was this a novel or a long poem dressed up as a novel? Because St Aubyn's prose was absolutely beautiful and vivid. The abundance of lyricism wasn't the only good aspect of this book (or these books to be precise)
What is really amazing was the fact that even though St Aubyn's themes include serious and important issues (view spoiler) he addresses them so delicately without exaggerating or using hyberboles just to make it app
Jason Koivu
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
It's hard to say you loved something that also filled you with so much hatred. These characters are abominable. St. Aubyn's created a horrific and sad world. I can't wait to read the next one! ...more
Jul 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Much has been said about the Patrick Melrose novels, but I found this first book in the series to be rather underdone.

Three couples (the men are British, two from the aristocracy and one a self-made man with a knighthood; their women are a mix) meet for dinner in the South of France and give us a glimpse into their lives of leisure. The aristocratic men David and Nicholas are self-indulgent, narcissistic bullies, while their women are weak, alcoholic and drug dependent. The knight is Victor, a p
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jessica Woodbury
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I can't say I recommend this book. So much that's deplorable and horrific happens in it. There isn't much in terms of likable characters and there isn't much plot, either.

And yet I was completely enthralled by this book for every step of the way. I can't explain it.

Re-read in 2017 as I finally read the full series. Forgot how traumatic and horrible it is. The whiplash of going from the sardonic to the traumatic so breezily over the course of a paragraph is indescribable. I had to put it down fo
Oct 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Antonomasia by: Alex Sarll
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
Beth Bonini
This novel is a marvel of compression and elegant writing. After finishing it, I realised that the events unspool over a mere 24 hour period and yet the author manages to create an entire world.

The cast of characters is small: 5 year old Patrick and his unhappily married parents David and Eleanor; their neighbours in France, Anne and Victor; and houseguest Nicholas and his girlfriend Bridget. The French couple who serve David and Eleanor Melrose are just glimpsed at the fringes. The story is se
Lori Weiman
Mar 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
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
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. ...more
Project: Catch Up On Review Backlog, review #10 out of 16

Pretty much ever since I abandoned grad school before I completed my doctorate (English lit!), I have been allergic to lit-fic. There is just something about modern literary fiction that hits me the wrong way. Most of it feels to me like the author is trying to impress me, to say something PROFOUND, and a heck of a lot of it is just middle aged white guys having mid-life crises in exactly the same way. I find it pretentious and samesy. The
Claire Fuller
Oh, these people. I hated them all. This is a tough read and not just because of the awful people, but because of the life five-year-old Patrick is living. Despite that it is wonderfully written and I read it in two days. I wasn't sure that all these people in one room could actually not have one redeeming feature between them, but maybe I just haven't met people like this is real life. I'm going to need a gap to catch my breath before I read the next one. ...more
Aug 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the first in a series of five books about a wealthy, upper class Englishman called Patrick Melrose. In this book we meet Patrick at age 5 and discover some facts about his abusive father, his alcoholic mother and his generally unhappy start in life. It sounds awful but St Aubyn writes so beautifully and is often very humourous. I enjoyed it very much and intend to move straight on to book two.
An unpleasant little book about the upper-class English (“boredom plus money”) engaged in cat and mouse games in the South of France. The father, David Melrose, is a sixty-year-old doctor and an almost cartoonishly villainous sadomasochist. The mother, Eleanor, is a younger American who has retreated into pills and alcohol. Their five-year-old son, Patrick, is a serious and perceptive child who, by the end of the book, which takes place over the course of just one day, has presumably lost his in ...more
Aqsa (On Hiatus)
Because of Benedict Cumberbatch!
Bill Kupersmith
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
We were sailing off the Cornish coast when we sighted a castle on a small island called Saint Michael’s Mount and our skipper told us it belonged to a depraved family called St. Aubyn. Actually I think and hope he was wrong and the depraved St. Aubyns were cousins who lived on the Continent. I’d gone out of my way not to read any of Edward St. Aubyn’s autobiographical novels, but after I found the first featured a character based on the philosopher A. J. Ayer, I couldn’t resist. Basically in thi ...more
Dec 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: class-system, fiction
Despite being set in France, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book which demonstrated the utter toxicity of English snobbery so perfectly. 'Never Mind' made my blood run cold, as it recounted a day in the life of David Melrose, his wife Eleanor, and their son Patrick. David is a sadistic and abusive psychopath, yet because he is well bred his behaviour goes unchallenged. He is an utterly terrifying character thanks to his plausibility. Indeed, the various subtle humiliations of social occasions de ...more
Tanja Berg
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
A rather acerbic little novel about unsympathetic upper class people and the gold diggers that circle like satellites around them. The story centers around the narcissistic and violent David, his understandably alcoholic and down-trodden wife and the son, Patrick, that he he also abuses. It's terrible and astute, with astonishing humor. ...more
Mar 13, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, 2012
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. ...more
Apr 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
Oh gosh. So I bought this whole series last year or the year before. I bought them because they were mentioned in some Buzzfeed article called, “100 Messed Up Books You Have to Read Before You Die.” I actually don’t think that was the title of the article but it was some clickbait thing that I fell for. It sat on my shelf until I saw there was going to be a Showtime series based on the novels starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Since I don’t think I’ll ever get more seasons of Sherlock, I decided I n ...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

Other books in the series

Patrick Melrose (5 books)
  • Bad News (Patrick Melrose, #2)
  • Some Hope
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