At Last by Edward St Aubyn (2012) 272 p.

at last.jpg

The fifth and final of Edward St Aubyn’s Patrick Melrose books, and I find I have little left to say about them. They’ve all been very good, and this one’s no exception, as Patrick and his family attend the funeral of his mother, finally giving him some kind of release on the abuse and neglect he suffered at the hands of both his parents. It’s once again a novel of introspection and internal monologues, as the point of view flits across Patrick, his ex-wife, his ex-lover, his father’s monstrous old friend Nicholas, et cetera.

Something that occurred to me during At Last is that the Patrick Melrose novels reflect real life in the sense that there are no definitive conclusions to anything – despite St Aubyn’s sense of cinematic drama exemplified by the swan at the end of Some Hope, or Patrick watching the sun go down at the the end of At Last. St Aubyn originally planned to finish the series with the third volume back in the early ’90s, only to go on and write two more entries, and he could just as easily write more down the line. Patrick is only in his forties, and is still depressed, nihilistic and tormented.

These are very good books and well worth reading. That sounds a little trite but, as I said, I’ve exhausted most of the good things to say about them during that previous four volumes. My only recommendation, having read them myself over the course of more than a year, is to pick them up in a single volume. I’ve seen these around, clocking in at a hefty but still manageable 600 or 700 pages. Reading them disjointedly, given the extended background characters and the vast leaps in Patrick’s life, makes keeping track of things a little more difficult. That’s all. Enjoy.

Advertisements