by Edward St Aubyn (Picador) ISBN: 9780330435901
This is the final instalment in the Melrose family saga.
St Aubyn’s semi-autobiographical journey began with the trilogy Never Mind, Bad News and Some Hope. The story continued with Mother’s Milk and ends At Last.
Patrick Melrose watches his mother’s coffin in this caustically funny book. He has just returned from the Priory after his own marriage breaks up. We watch him revisit his rape by his father, his heroin addiction and his eventual disinheritance by his mother.
He realises his parents were conspirators in their sick abuse of his childhood self. Will he always choose High Society bitches like his mother? Will he always need narcotics to forget the horrors inflicted on him by his father?
Patrick tries to make peace with his past but this is futile.
He decides to take responsibility for his future instead. He wants to see his own children. And there is tenderness in his thoughts here.
The novel takes place over a few hours including the funeral service of Eleanor Melrose. You do not have to have read the first books to enjoy, or understand, this one.
St Aubyn is viciously ironic. His dialogue is textured with feathery barbs and heated disdain. And thankfully, he does not cop out with a happy ending.