14 May 2008 ~ 0 Comments

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon


This book started out so funny. Poor George, but ya know, I think almost anyone can identify with him. “Hey, there’s a spot. What if it’s poison ivy?” or “Hey, that mole looks a little weird. What if it’s cancerous?”. Oh, you know you do it too. We all do. We are all crazy, deep down inside.

Having said that, George and Ray are the only characters in this book I really liked. Jamie was okay, but the rest were utterly self-centered or unlikeable.

BUT. The story is funny. The ending is “meh” at best, but getting there is a great ride. It’s definitely worth a read, but don’t go in thinking it’s going to be as deep or wonderful as A Curious Dog in the Nite Time. It’s not. It doesn’t suck, it’s no… err… dog.


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, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement, building a shed in his garden, reading historical novels and listening to a bit of light jazz. Then his tempestuous daughter, Katie, announces that she is getting re-married, to the deeply inappropriate Ray. Her family is not pleased – as her brother Jamie observes, Ray has “strangler’s hands.” Katie can’t decide if she loves Ray, or loves the wonderful way he has with her son Jacob, and her mother Jean is a bit put out by all the planning and arguing the wedding has occasioned, which get in the way of her quite fulfilling late-life affair with one of her husband’s ex-colleagues. And the tidy and pleasant life Jamie has created crumbles when he fails to invite his lover, Tony, to the dreaded nuptials.

Unnoticed in the uproar, George discovers a sinister lesion on his hip, and quietly begins to lose his mind.

The way these damaged people fall apart – and come together – as a family is the true subject of Haddon’s disturbing yet amusing portrait of a dignified man trying to go insane politely.

A 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. Here the madness –literally – of family life proves rich comic fodder for Haddon’s crackling prose and bittersweet insights into misdirected love.

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