For The Someday Book

Book Review: A Spot of Bother

Posted on: May 13, 2013

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon, Doubleday, 2006, 354 pp.

4701I adored Mark Haddon’s previous novel, the curious incident of the dog in the night-time. Its unique narrative voice and compelling story captivated me.  I eagerly scooped this next novel off the library shelves as soon as it appeared. While the particulars of the story and the narrator did not haunt me the same way Haddon’s previous story did, it was an excellent story and intricately written.

The story is about a family coming undone. George, the patriarch, is slowly losing his mind, but no one seems to realize it. Jean, his wife, is having an affair and busy planning her daughter’s wedding. Everyone thinks the daughter, Katie, is marrying the wrong man in Ray, who is steady and faithful and adores her young son Jacob, but does not match Katie’s class or education. George and Jean’s son, Jamie, is a gay man struggling to make a commitment to love and a long term relationship, even as his family struggles to accept his sexuality.

The plot of the novel moves through all of these intertwining relationships–each member of the family with every other member of the family, all while George’s sanity and everyone’s primary marital relationships are unraveling. The storytelling is excellent; the characters are interesting, likable and relatable. Much like Haddon’s first novel, the act of reading it simply brought me joy and delight. While it may not stick out in my memory like the curious incident of the dog in the night-time, A Spot of Bother was clever, engaging and well worth reading.

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3 Responses to "Book Review: A Spot of Bother"

I loved _The Curious Incident_ as well. Thanks for this review.

Okay, I’ll give it a try. It would be hard to improve upon Curious Incident.

Great Review! I agree. “The Curious Incident of a Dog in the Night-Time” was more enjoyable to read and visually experience, since Mark scattered a plethora of amusing images and diagrams between thought-provoking sentences and paragraphs. Maybe there was more dark humor and wit embodied in “A Spot of Bother” that kept me at a distance, observing (but not immersing) myself in the chaos and characters within a family. Just picked up his new book out on paperback, “The Red House.” Haven’t started reading it yet, but after skimming over the summary, I feel like it’s a rehash of “A Spot of Bother” with a twist in the storytelling that mingles the lives of eight very different characters and brings them together for one awkward week in the countryside. Mark Haddon has yet to disappoint me. Excellent writer!
Cheers,
Tyler 🙂

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About Me

I am a full-time pastor in the United Church of Christ, mother of a young child (B.), married to an aspiring academic and curmudgeon (J.). I live by faith, intuition and intellect. I follow politics, football and the Boston Red Sox. I like to talk about progressive issues, theological concerns, church life, the impact of technology and media, pop culture and books.

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