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At Last Hardcover – 6 May 2011

27 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (6 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0330435906
  • ISBN-13: 978-0330435901
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 3.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 346,885 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

‘Urgent emotional intensity, brilliant social satire . . . A terrifying, spectacularly entertaining saga’ James Lasdun, Guardian

'At once epic and intimate, appalling and comic, the Melrose novels are masterpieces' Maggie O'Farrell

‘Remarkable. St Aubyn’s books are at once extremely dark and extremely funny’ Francine Prose, New York Times

‘The Melrose novels are remarkable – ferociously funny, painfully acute and exhilaratingly written. A brilliantly controlled story of a life sent out of control’ Peter Kemp, Sunday Times

‘At Last is a miraculously wrought piece of art’ Suzi Feay, Financial Times

‘The pinnacle of a series that has plunged into darkness and risen towards light. At Last is both resounding end and hopeful beginning’ Philip Womack, Telegraph

Book Description

'At once epic and intimate, appalling and comic, the Melrose novels are masterpieces' Maggie O'Farrell --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Ripple TOP 500 REVIEWER on 27 April 2011
Format: Hardcover
In "At Last", Edward St Aubyn returns to the Melrose family, the subject of both "Some Hope" and of his Booker-shortlisted "Mother's Milk". I confess that I have still not got around to reading the first of the trilogy, but loved "Mother's Milk" and found that I wasn't greatly disadvantaged by not having read the previous book. "At Last" could also be read as a stand-alone book, but I wouldn't advise this approach. You will miss out on so much that if you are planning on reading it, you really should read at least "Mother's Milk" first. This isn't much of an inconvenience as it's a terrific book.

I'd also add that if you are thinking of taking this route, you might want to stop reading this review at this point. While it's possible to give a taste of "At Last" without spoilers, the story follows on from "Mother's Milk", so the very set up means that if you don't want to know what happens, you might want to look away now.

St Aubyn's subjects are very much the upper class elite - and their self-centred behaviour as they squander their inheritances. That might not be to everyone's taste as a subject matter and certainly it isn't the life that most of us lead. But he sends them up beautifully and you will soon be laughing and shaking your head at their attitudes. St Aubyn's style is waspishly funny - for me, he is like a slightly more literary, English version of Brett Easton Ellis. There's a similar level of shock and bad behaviour, but he's a more humane writer than Easton Ellis.

OK, so I'm hoping that all those who plan on reading "Mother's Milk" have now left the room so I can reveal that the setting for "At Last" is the funeral of Eleanor - the mother who so infuriated her son Patrick in "Mother's Milk".
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 May 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having loved the Patrick Melrose Trilogy ("Never Mind", "Bad News" and "Some Hope") and the wonderful "Mother's Milk", I had to know what lay in wait for Patrick. Although the books can be read alone, it makes more sense if you read them in order, especially as a lot of the books look back to Patrick's childhood and his relationship with his parents. In the first three books, the emphasis is on the relationship Patrick had with his father and the last two books concentrate on his mother.

Patrick comes from a long line of embittered and twisted people. His father an abusive and vicious man, his mother a former alcoholic who seemed to want to help everyone, except her son. Much of the depression Patrick feels during the course of the novels relates to the loss of his childhood home; which his mother, Eleanor, had given to a new age healing group - or charlatans, as Patrick feels with some realistic resentment. His feelings of anger against his parents has led to various self destructive behaviours - including drug addiction (brilliantly portrayed in "Bad News") and alcholism. His family were once wealthy, some members still are, but Patrick's mother and her sister Nancy, felt cheated out of their inheritance and Patrick feels this has continued with his disinheritance and that of his sons.

Most of the books in this brilliant series take place over a small time frame - a dinner party, a visit to America to collect his fathers ashes, a party. This volume takes place during Eleanor's funeral. Eleanor has been ill a long while and her funeral forces Patrick to look back at his complicated feelings for his mother. Eleanor is seen as saintly by some, childlike by others and gullable by others.
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Format: Paperback
I can't say that I've read better,wittier,more acid prose than St Aubyn produces at times here.There are sections which would have done credit to Evelyn Waugh.The opening chapter is rampantly funny and the tone is sustained virtually throughout the novel.Shockingly,the author slips his foot very occasionally into the sentimental,especially when introducing children into the narrative but,in the main,he sustains both a retrospective on his horrific childhood and a commentary on the antics of a crowd of upper class misfits and acquisitive cultists with admirable verve.

I've read others from this series but apart from having catalogued them under "very good" in my memory and having a vague recollection of St Aubyn's genius for recreating drunkenness on the page,I don't remember that much about them.This,however,didn't spoil my enjoyment of "At Last".The structure of the novel allows St Aubyn to inform the reader fairly fully of the part played by the various characters in his past life and the effect is rather like meeting people at a real funeral.I was pretty sure by the end of the book who everyone was and their significance in Patrick's life.

I also like the concept of a book which pretty well observes the unities of time,action and place.Although much of what "happens" in the book happens in the protagonists' memories,the central action takes place on one day,concerns one event and happens in only acouple of settings.To make a work operating within such a frame and make it consistently compelling and entertaining takes a large amount of literary skill.Only someone with St Aubyn's precise ability to verbalise the internal in such original and elegant prose would be capable of accomplishing the task.
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