Edward St Aubyn has created in Patrick Melrose a compelling anti hero, forever jousting with the twin demons of drugs and family. The three novels which make up the trilogy, Never Mind, Bad News, and Some Hope, are bundled in this compendium, and benefit from being packaged together. Charting Patrick's miserable childhood with his entirely dysfunctional family, through his chemical oddyssey to New York to collect his father's ashes, the story closes with an an excruciating dinner party featuring a deliciously wicked portrayal of Princess Margaret.
It is not easy to identify with Patrick Melrose, since he has a ferocious appetite for hard drugs which is almost matched by his withering contempt for most of the people he is forced to deal with every day. St Aubyn's skill is in making the reader care for such a superficially disagreeable character. His prose style is very precise and economical, and his ear for a certain kind of cruel aristocratic put down is second to none. Despite dealing with such gloomy themes as death, heroin, and social humiliation, all three books mine a rich vein of dark humour, best evidenced in the in the funeral parlour scenes in Bad News. Edward St Aubyn has provided such a resonant portrayal of a certain breed of dissipated upper class indulgence that we are left wondering just how much first hand experience he has had of the social life which he depicts so mercilessly.