A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon

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Synopsis

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.
 

About Mark Haddon

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mark haddon is the author of the international bestseller The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction and the Whitbread Book of the Year award. In addition to the recently published The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea, a collection of poetry, Haddon has also written and illustrated numerous children’s books and received several awards for his television screenplays.
 
Published August 14, 2007 by Vintage. 370 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Action & Adventure, Comics & Graphic Novels, Horror, Humor & Entertainment, Gay & Lesbian. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Spot of Bother

Kirkus Reviews

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Their divorced daughter, Katie, announces her impending marriage to a man who might even be duller than George, but who provides security and emotional support for her son.

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The New York Times

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Mark Haddon’s eccentric, beguiling “Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is one tough act to follow.

Sep 07 2006 | Read Full Review of A Spot of Bother

The New York Times

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His first novel, published three years ago, was called “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” The new one is called “A Spot of Bother.” Neither book has anything to do with a plasticine man-dog duo propelled by stop-motion animation.

Sep 17 2006 | Read Full Review of A Spot of Bother

The Guardian

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George, the retired hero of Mark Haddon's second novel, is in 'a spot of bother' because he doesn't believe in talking - 'Talking was, in George's opinion, overrated' - and because his wife is having an affair, two things, Haddon intimates, that are obviously related, but not in an obvious way.

Sep 10 2006 | Read Full Review of A Spot of Bother

The Guardian

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A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon 390pp, Jonathan Cape, £17.99 Mark Haddon's first novel after the worldwide success of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time is a real oddity, but not at all in the way you might expect.

Aug 26 2006 | Read Full Review of A Spot of Bother

Publishers Weekly

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Without trying to act out the characters, Keating clearly delineates each: George's wife (who is having an affair), his daughter (who is about to embark on another disastrous marriage), her fiance (whose cockney accent highlights class antagonisms) and his son (who fears bringing his male lover t...

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BC Books

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Or, in the case of Bother's protagonist, George Hall, deeply insane.

Nov 14 2006 | Read Full Review of A Spot of Bother

Book Reporter

Writing in third person, but from the four perspectives of George, Jean, Katie and Jamie, Haddon deftly demonstrates the isolation and connection of each family member.

Jan 23 2011 | Read Full Review of A Spot of Bother

AV Club

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The novel jumps into George's head the way Curious Incident jumped into Christopher's, and Haddon's perspective on anxiety attacks—their profundity while they're happening, the sense of unreality and ridiculousness when they retreat—is intelligent and evocative.

Sep 06 2006 | Read Full Review of A Spot of Bother

Entertainment Weekly

Mark Haddon, author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, is back, turning his crisp, clear, nattily British prose to the Hall family, a group of fragile psyches teetering on a variety of brinks in the days before daughter Katie's wedding.

Sep 01 2006 | Read Full Review of A Spot of Bother

Suite 101

Lawrence's classic contains a very peculiar ending for an early 20th century novel.

Nov 04 2010 | Read Full Review of A Spot of Bother

The Bookbag

Aside from George - nervous breakdowns get even my invertedly snobbish sympathy - I really didn't feel an investment of hope in a happy ending for any of these annoying people.

Oct 07 2010 | Read Full Review of A Spot of Bother

Pajiba

Part of the gift of this writer is that he can make us laugh about it, but at it’s core it’s a comedy about a whole lot of things most of us don’t find very funny.

Aug 02 2009 | Read Full Review of A Spot of Bother

About.com Bestsellers

Funny and perceptive, if not uplifting, Haddon's biggest accomplishment is writing something completely different from Curious Incident, and writing it well.ProsMark Haddon writes well from several different viewpoints.Short chapters & a third person look into several characters speeds the book a...

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Bookmarks Magazine

ISBN: 0385520514 NY Times Book Review 4.5 of 5 Stars "[Haddon is] so wondrously articulate, so rigorous in thinking through his characters’ mind-sets, that A Spot of Bother serves as a fine example of why novels exist.

Aug 22 2007 | Read Full Review of A Spot of Bother

BookRack

>I am sure those who have read ‘The Curious Case of the dog at the night time’ by Mark Haddon must have added ‘A Spot of Bother’ by the author in their TBR list.

May 20 2011 | Read Full Review of A Spot of Bother

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Robyn Yeary 23 Sep 2013

Rated the book as 4 out of 5