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A Spot of Bother indeed.....,
This review is from: A Spot of Bother (Paperback)
George has found an area of irritated skin on his hip and he is convinced he is going to die of cancer. Which is inconvenient, as his daughter is about to get married and he was planning to enjoy his retirement. Instead he has to deal with increasingly severe panic attacks and the brutal realisation that his wife is having an affair. It is going to be an eventful few weeks.
Brisk and brutally honest, Haddon wastes no time on sugar-coating life. His characters are displayed flawed like an episode of Eastenders, where emotional maturity or selflessness features barely at all. Each chapter is narrated in turn by the different family members, so we get an almost three-dimensional view of events. Which could possibly have worked quite well, had the characters been a little more developed, and a little less like cartoons.
Because that is the strongest impression I have of this book - Over-simplified, almost childlike characters, reduced to something so unlike complex human beings that they resemble an Idiot's Guide on How To Be a Human. I know it is meant to be funny, and sometimes the matter-of-factness is so bizarre that it does force a chuckle - Something along the lines of; Oh my husband is on all fours in a corner moaning to himself. Better make a cup of tea and book the caterers for the wedding. But for a book which from the start presents itself as a very honest warts-and-all family story, it falls surprisingly short of the mark. Maybe it can produce the defence that it is meant as a caricature of a modern family, all normal feelings and events exaggerated for comic effect at the same time as trying to address some serious issues faced by families in the 21st century. But to me that does not change the fact that it is about as subtle and clever as a sledgehammer, and about as entertaining as one too.