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A Spot of Bother

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  33,000 ratings  ·  3,313 reviews
George Hall is an unobtrusive man. A little distant, perhaps, a little cautious, not at quite at ease with the emotional demands of fatherhood, or manly bonhomie. He does not understand the modern obsession with talking about everything. “The secret of contentment, George felt, lay in ignoring many things completely.” Some things in life, however, cannot be ignored.

At 61,
Paperback, 354 pages
Published September 5th 2006 by Doubleday (first published 2006)
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Hayley Irvine I enjoyed this book more than The Curious Incident. I laughed out loud in so many places - thought it was one of the funniest books I have ever read

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Average rating 3.48  · 
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 ·  33,000 ratings  ·  3,313 reviews

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Dec 17, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 06, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Jan 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Elyse  Walters
Feb 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing

I just notice Mark Haddon has a new book coming out (short stories) ---"The Pier Falls"

I entered the 'give-a-way' (a girl can hope) -- :)

I LOVED this book sooooooooooooo much --I had a few copies at one time.... (gave copies away).
For some reason --I like this 'MORE' than a few of my friends --but I was DYING LAUGHING ...(forgive me if I sound nasty) ....during the bedroom scenes....
and then there was the daughter's wedding... (I just LOVED this book --and could read it again)..
Modest past review discovered to have been lost in an import from Shelfari:
The survival of a modest man shown charmingly with much deadpan humor. George Hall thinks he has cancer, which shapes how he reacts to more mundane crises, such as an unfaithful wife, a son struggling with gayness, and a daughter about to marry poorly. He seems to gain a sense of sanity from learning first hand how crazy everyone else is. Our lovable hero just keeps having bad luck, but always rises to the surface. The in
Oct 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a really good, absorbing drama about a family in crisis and in particular tells the story of George who, at the age of 57, suddenly faces the fact that he is not going to live forever upon the discovery of a lesion on his hip. Wife Jean is sleeping with an old work colleague of his. Daughter Katie is preparing her wedding to Ray, a man who is universally disliked by her family and to be honest, she is not sure whether she is marrying him for the right reasons. Finally, son Jamie is facin ...more
Nov 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, contemporary, queer
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
MJ Nicholls
Aug 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Connie G
Jun 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Recently retired George Hall, a quiet family man, is thrown into a panic when he finds a large spot on his skin. Although his doctor assures him it's not serious, George is convinced it's cancer and he's going to die. Meanwhile, his daughter Katie announces that she is going to marry Ray, a man who might not be right for her. Katie's gay brother, Jamie, is on the outs with his boyfriend. Adding to the stress, George's wife has a smooth, handsome lover.

This is a domestic comedy about a dysfunctio
Jan 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Seth T.
Jan 23, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: bookclub
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
Aug 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Dec 15, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 12, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Nov 29, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pub-2006
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
Dec 16, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2008
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
Aug 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
Disappointing after beautifully sad and engaging "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time". Could not relate to the characters. Too many loose and shallow threads leading nowhere in particular. Or maybe just not my kind of book. Expectations too high because I loved the "Curious Incident"?
A book for lazy summer days, but not for the rest of the year when work, family and social obligations turn every hour in the reading chair into rare golden time.
On the other hand, there are so many
It's official, Mark Haddon and I just don't mesh. He's not for me! But to be fair, I won't rate this because it is really just me. Others seem to be drawn to his writing, but I just am not a fan. ...more
Gumble's Yard
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2006
In many ways a very easy reading story of an ordinary middle class family living in a village outside Peterborough, by the author of the outstanding “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time”.

George has recently retired and married to Jean, who is (as he discovers without her knowledge after aborting a trip away) having an affair with his old colleague David. Their daughter Katie having been left with a hyperactive son Jacob by her first husband Graham announces her engagement to the depen
Maxine (Booklover Catlady)
Jan 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is an excellent read, the witty one liners and dry humour interwoven makes for a very funny read at times. What's clever is that it's also poignant, heartfelt and sad at the same time, very clever writing. Highly recommended if you need something on the lighter side in between other books. I loved the characters, especially George whom I now want to adopt as my Grandad. ...more
❀Aimee❀ Just one more page...
After Curios Dog, I was eager to read another book by the same author. I couldn't identify with the characters at all. I found myself wanting to shake some sense into them. I know characters shouldn't be perfect, but come on! I made myself finish it. While it does delve into the thought process of someone with acute anxiety and fear and irrational thought (that was a bit interesting), the rest I just couldn't stand. ...more
Sep 21, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like most everyone else, I read this after reading "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" - which I loved. It's not that I expected this to be anything like that, but I wanted to see how this would compare. With the former story, most of it is written through the thoughts of Christopher, a young teen with autism. A Spot of Bother is more a journey through the days of a somewhat typically dysfunctional family, with the father -George- going through an emotional crisis which leads his ...more
intellectual and humbling.

if you are searching for a novel that mirrors "the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime" you will be disappointed. haddon's writing can be respectively diverse.

so realistic, and very vivid. the family dynamics are spot on. haddon says what we are all thinking and are too scared to say ourselves. i found this book discarded in a used book-store and read it over the course of 6 months because i didn't want to end it. open your mind and turn the page.
Helen (Helena/Nell)
Jul 12, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Chandré Louw
I went back to compare some of my older 3-star reviews and decided to drop this one down 1 star based on that.

It wasn't good. It wasn't bad.
It was just *shrugs* ..meh.

George reminded me of Harold Fry in The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry , a character with whom I could not connect at all. Feeble, weak and unresponsive to surroundings (had a bit more balls though).

Apparently books about retired old men are really not my thing.

Mark Haddon does deserve some credit as his book was easy to read
Feb 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A big read but very easy to read so i lapped it up
Loved George and his health worries raised by his depression and wife’s infidelity
Did not like his selfish wife at all and wanted to slap her!
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
"What they failed to teach you at school was that the whole business of being human just got messier and more complicated as you got older"

All families are crazy one way or the other. The Halls are a bit more colorful and the author makes sure they bring out all their colors. Welcome to the wedding of Katie Hall and Ray. As the nearly runaway groom Ray says 'Weddings are about families' and the family is the entire cake!

The world of George Hall, the father, turns upside down when he discovers a
Aug 26, 2018 rated it it was ok
I liked the description of the confusion experienced by George and the relationships between family members although I sometimes felt that the lack of empathy and understanding was a bit unrealistic and some characters came across as selfish and after so much drama the ending came over as a bit flat.
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: general-fiction
I'm not sure why this book has so many negative reviews, I loved it. It is a story from the perspective of 4 people- a retired couple and their two adult children, and largely deals with a mental health crisis in the family, while the other characters struggle with relationshio drama. I thought the novel was funny but dealt with anxiety in a believable way. I liked all of the characters, but my favourite was Jamie, the adult son. He was just a very normal and capable bloke.

4.5 stars for me, I re
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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

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