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A Spot of Bother [Paperback]

Mark Haddon
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (244 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

7 Jun 2007

At fifty-seven, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement, building a shed in his garden, reading historical novels, listening to a bit of light jazz. Then Katie, his tempestuous daughter, announces that she is getting remarried, to 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 way he cares for her son Jacob, and her mother Jean is a bit put out by the way the wedding planning gets in the way of her affair with one of her husband's former 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.

Frequently Bought Together

A Spot of Bother + The Red House + The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
Price For All Three: 14.61

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (7 Jun 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099506920
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099506928
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (244 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 12,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Haddon is an author, illustrator and screenwriter who has written fifteen books for children and won two BAFTAs. His bestselling novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, was published simultaneously by Jonathan Cape and David Fickling in 2003. It won seventeen literary prizes, including the Whitbread Award. His poetry collection, The Talking Horse and the Sad Girl and the Village Under the Sea, was published by Picador in 2005, and his last novel, The Red House, was published by Jonathan Cape in 2012. He lives in Oxford.

Product Description


"Brilliant...very funny" (Sunday Telegraph)

"A painful, funny, humane novel: beautifully written, addictively readable and so confident" (The Times)

"Wry, warm-hearted and entertaining" (Charlotte Moore Telegraph)

"Unforgettable" (Daily Express)

"A witty and subtle family drama" (Independent on Sunday)

Book Description

A brilliantly funny, bestselling novel by the award-winning author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
47 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Touching and funny. 16 Feb 2007
The central character of 'A Spot Of Bother' is George Hall, a 57-year-old man from Peterborough, recently retired and a touch overwhelmed by his newly discovered wealth of free time. Other people we meet and follow are George's wife Jean, who is having an affair with one of George's ex-co-workers; their son Jamie, who is having relationship problems of his own; and their daughter Katie who is about to get married to Ray, a man none of the family are sure about and who Katie does not appear to be madly in love with. The book's narrative follows one character at a time, allowing the reader to see events from everyone's point of view.

Plot-wise, the book it pretty simple - Katie and Ray are to get married at George and Jean's home, and everything must be organised - Jamie has to patch things up with his boyfriend, Katie has to decide whether she really wants to get married ... and George catches Jean with her lover, fears he is dying of cancer and thus begins to go mad.

Haddon's genius is to occupy the minds of the different characters in an entirely believable (and readable) manner, from the doubts of Katie's impending marriage to Jamie's love for his partner to the madness of King George, the head of the family. It's a difficult book to put down once begun, and although a light read on some levels nonetheless satisfying - the stand-out sections being those eloquent yet terrifying descriptions of George's descent into madness.
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118 of 124 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Curiously Good Second Novel 11 Sep 2007
Mark Haddon, damn him, has written a second novel which is better than the first. It isn't LIKE the first one, the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, so ignore the reviewers below who seem to think that like a brand name, an author's name should guarantee an identical experience every time. This time Haddon approaches a superficially ordinary family, perhaps like yours or mine, and goes into the little crises and difficulties which make family life so hard to bear. Dad may be an alcoholic, may be a hypochondriac, may be going mad.... you make your own decision as you read his narrative of the family going through weddings, arrivals and departures, illnesses and just day to day coping. But the style is distinctively, freshly, hilariously Haddon and very recognisable as the work of the same hand.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent follow-up 26 Oct 2006
As one of many readers who admired The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time I was keen to read this book yet aprehensive that it would disappoint. Thankfully it did not and although the book seems initially to be completely different in theme and style both books share the authenticity of their characters, the realism of their domestic setting and the sympathetic yet humorous treatment of a medical condition, in this case depression. George Hall is politely going mad whilst trying not to inconvenience his family. His wife Jean has embarked on a reasonably satisfying affair with his old work colleague David, daughter Katie is about to marry unsuitable husband number two, Ray and they are all trying to deal sensitively with son Jamie who is having commitment issues with his long term boyfriend Tony. All this inevitably comes to a head on the day of the ill-fated wedding. This is a thoroughly enjoyable and thought provoking book with George showing quiet heroism whilst coping with a very well mannered bout of mental illness. The plot is a little contrived, perhaps even slapstick at times yet despite this A Spot of Bother is ultimately very funny and confronts real issues and situations with which we can all empathise.
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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spot On! 12 Sep 2006
This is a startling book which leaves a strong aftertaste. And that's surprising really, because there is nothing new or out of the ordinary here.

The power of the novel comes from the fact that everyone reading it will surely be able to identify some aspect of their own behaviour or that of someone they know or have known. The book consists of 140 odd very short chapters and this works well, actually driving you on to read "just one more." To my surprise, I've just finished this in less than two days but it really is that compelling.

The style is very easy and it flows well. Each chapter views things from the standpoint of one of the main characters and there is some overlap between the narration of events, so that the reader can determine the subtle differences in the way the same words or actions appear to different individuals.

Most stunning of all is the author's ability to put himself inside the thoughts of some very different characters of widely diverse ages and backgrounds. The understanding shown of the effects of retirement and late middle age, and the physical / mental damage caused by depressive illness is a triumph of observation and empathy.

None of this makes the book sound much fun but it is. It is simultaneously sad , uplifting and very, very funny. Overall, it is that rare beast, a literary novel which is also a page - turner. Order it now - you'll want to have the hardback to keep!
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I laughed the whole way through 11 Jun 2007
Hillarious! Couldn't put it down. I don't give it five stars, because this book is LOADED with schmaltz, but it was the funniest thing I have read in ages. Even to the point of laughing out loud, to my wife's annoyance. I enjoyed it as much as Haddon's more famous "The Curious Incident ..."

The four members of his family are outwardly normal, leading conventional lives, but their personal crises are all brought together in a fast-paced farce. Haddon is very good at drawing out his characters. You are bound recognise aspects of them in yourself or others around you. Pain, swearing, sexual escapades and a surprising yet believable sequence of events are interspersed with the jokes right from the off. This is a much more sophisticated read than a summary of the plot can convey.

The chapters dealing with George's (the father) crises were to my (perhaps twisted) mind the funniest. For me the humour came from seeing how his tortured logic and thinking processes produced behaviour which seemed normal to him, but outrageous to those around him.

George fears that he is suffering from either a nervous breakdown or from depression. In fact, although his behaviour is shocking, given the devastating circumstances George must confront, the reader feels some empathy for his position, even respect for his responses.

It will have you turning the pages quickly and not wanting to be disturbed till you finish, and then that feeling you get at the end of a good book, satisfaction tempered with disappointment that there is no more to be had.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed!
I bought this based on the reviews on here, but I was disappointed.

I, personally, didn't find this funny - no big lol moments for me, but clearly different things amuse... Read more
Published 2 days ago by The Piebald Princess
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very good
Published 4 days ago by Theresa Dickinson
2.0 out of 5 stars I didn't find it funny either and quiet disturbing at times
this book was far too descriptive for me, it takes 3 paragraphs to say one sentence, I didn't find it funny either and quiet disturbing at times.
Published 18 days ago by Mrs. C. L. Shadbolt
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
awful story, but Alex Jennings reads it so well, you don't really mind.
Published 18 days ago by Linda S
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Another fabulous read. Arrived promptly.
Published 1 month ago by M. Moore
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story, the characters have real
Great story,the characters have real depth
Published 1 month ago by Seanmac
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious page turner!!
A thoroughly enjoyable page turner. It had me crying with laughter! I loved the characters and the different situations. Superb
Published 1 month ago by snowdrop
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and sweet
Brilliant and very funny, had me crying tears of laughter in places. The characters are bursting with personality and the plot is dark, funny, meaningful and heartfelt.
Published 3 months ago by x
5.0 out of 5 stars Part of a gift for a birthday
Bought as another part of a gift for a granddaughter's birthday as she had this book on her wish list with a number of others and she is looking to collect them all.
Published 3 months ago by Roger H Mills
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast paced and worth the inches
Couldn't put it down - cost me a lot of late nights! Really entertaining and absorbing. Interesting structure with the parallel strands of the characters' lives and the knots the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Gloria Brown
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