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A Spot of Bother Hardcover – 31 Aug 2006

265 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape; First Edition edition (31 Aug. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224080466
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224080460
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.6 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (265 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 433,025 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


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

"Haddon floats insights – sculpted, delicate and precise as origami – on currents of offbeat wit." -- Jennie Renton, Sunday Herald

"a convincing, if blackly comic, study of suburban life"
-- The Good Book Guide

"perfect medicine – easy to swallow, a touch formulaic, but nipping the nerve and hitting the truth" -- Tom Adair, Scotsman

"simultaneously riotously funny, profoundly insightful and deeply poignant" -- Julie Wheelwright, Scotland on Sunday

Chosen by Mark Gatiss.
-- The Sunday Herald Books of the Year.

`A delight to read... touching and genuinely funny'
-- Word Magazine, 19 October, 2006

bleakly funny
-- Metro - Best Fiction of 2006

Book Description

The most keenly awaited book of the year - the brilliant new novel by the author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Hannah W on 16 Feb. 2007
Format: Hardcover
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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121 of 128 people found the following review helpful By Waterbaby on 11 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
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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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Eleanor Fitzsimons on 26 Oct. 2006
Format: Hardcover
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Brett H TOP 50 REVIEWER on 7 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
The main positive feature of A Spot of Bother is that the author writes very well. The narrative is always written in an interesting way with an edge of wit. It is just as well as I may have had difficulty getting past page 10 if the writing had not been of this high standard. However, frankly I think his skills are wasted on this one.

If I had to put my finger on the problem, I would say that the issue is that none of the characters are very likeable and, indeed, the principal players are, in the main, downright dislikeable. The plot, which is centred around the personal and painful mental disintegration of George is not really very appealing and is probably something which most readers, in the abstract, would not choose to read about. We also have George's wife, Jean, in the midst of a tawdry affair, their daughter Kate, being totally indecisive about whether she wants to get remarried and the tangled love life of Jamie, the gay son - no spoilers here as all this can be gleaned from the back cover! It is hard to empathise with any of these and generally one feels that one would like to grab each of them by the shoulders and shout 'Get Yourself Together'!

Because of the style of writing this is not a difficult book to read, and by the wedding towards the end, I thought the bizarre occurrences were actually quite interesting. However, this was probably a reaction to the rest of the book, which was the opposite to a page turner. The main thing which kept me going was that I do like to finish books I start and the chapters are quite short in the main.

Mark Haddon is an author of great promise, and I look forward to his future offerings, but if you do not get round to reading this one, you will not have missed very much in my opinion.
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