A Spot of Bother

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Thorndike Press, 2006 - Fiction - 594 pages
84 Reviews
George Hall is an unobtrusive man. A little distant, perhaps, a little cautious, not quite at ease with the emotional demands of fatherhood or of manly bonhomie. The secret of contentment, George felt, lay in ignoring many things completely. Some things in life can't be ignored, however: his tempestuous daughter Katie's deeply inappropriate boyfriend Ray, for instance, or the sudden appearance of a red circular rash on his hip.
At 57, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement, building a shed in his garden and enjoying the freedom to be alone when he wants. But then he runs into a spot of bother. That red circular rash on his hip: George convinces himself it's skin cancer. And the deeply inappropriate Ray? Katie announces he will become her second husband. The planning for these frowned-upon nuptials proves a great inconvenience to George's wife, Jean, who is carrying on a late-life affair with her husband's ex-colleague. The Halls do not approve of Ray, for vague reasons summed up by their son Jamie's observation that Ray has strangler's hands. Jamie himself has his own problems -- his tidy and pleasant life comes apart when he fails to invite his lover, Tony, to Katie's wedding. And Katie, a woman whose ferocious temper once led to the maiming of a carjacker, can't decide if she loves Ray, or loves the wonderful way he has with her son Jacob.
Unnoticed in the uproar, George quietly begins to go mad. The way these damaged people fall apart -- and come together -- as a family is the true subject of Haddon's hilarious and disturbing portrait of a dignified man trying to go insane politely.
A Spot of Bother is Mark Haddon's unforgettable follow-up to theinternationally beloved bestseller The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Once again, Haddon proves a master of a story at once hilarious, poignant, dark, and profoundly human. 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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User Review  - dbsovereign - LibraryThing

A small British family lives through crisis after synchronous crisis in this droll, very dark comedy. Each member of the family is struggling with their own modern-day version of anguished malaise ... Read full review

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User Review  - Bagpuss - LibraryThing

Very different from The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, but good fun. Once bit (in a bathroom) made me cringe when reading it!! Read full review

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About the author (2006)

Author and screenwriter Mark Haddon was born in Northampton, U.K. in 1962. He received a B.A. in English from Merton College and a MSc in English Literature from Edinburgh University. Since 1996, he has worked on numerous television projects. He has won two BAFTAs and The Royal Television Society Best Children's Drama for Microsoap, which he created and wrote 12 out of 25 episodes. He also wrote the screenplay for the BBC television adaption of Fungus the Bogeyman. He has written fifteen children's books including the Agent Z series. In 1994, he was shortlisted for the Smarties Prize for The Real Porky Philips. He won the 2003 Whitbread Book of the Year Award for his novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, which provides a realistic insight into what it is like to have autism. He currently lives in Oxford with his family. He was runner-up for the BBC National Short Story Award with his title 'Bunny'.

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