A Spot of Bother

A Spot of Bother

Book - 2006
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Random House, Inc.
George Hall is an unobtrusive man. A little distant, perhaps, a little cautious, not at quite at ease with the emotional demands of fatherhood, or manly bonhomie. He does not understand the modern obsession with talking about everything. “The secret of contentment, George felt, lay in ignoring many things completely.” Some things in life, however, cannot be ignored.

At 61, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement, building a shed in his garden, reading historical novels and listening to a bit of light jazz. Then his tempestuous daughter, Katie, announces that she is getting re-married, to the deeply inappropriate Ray. Her family is not pleased – as her brother Jamie observes, Ray has “strangler’s hands.” Katie can’t decide if she loves Ray, or loves the wonderful way he has with her son Jacob, and her mother Jean is a bit put out by all the planning and arguing the wedding has occasioned, which get in the way of her quite fulfilling late-life affair with one of her husband’s ex-colleagues. And the tidy and pleasant life Jamie has created crumbles when he fails to invite his lover, Tony, to the dreaded nuptials.

Unnoticed in the uproar, George discovers a sinister lesion on his hip, and quietly begins to lose his mind.

The way these damaged people fall apart – and come together – as a family is the true subject of Haddon’s disturbing yet amusing portrait of a dignified man trying to go insane politely.

A SPOT OF BOTHER is Mark Haddon’s unforgettable follow-up to the internationally beloved bestseller THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME. Here the madness – literally – of family life proves rich comic fodder for Haddon’s crackling prose and bittersweet insights into misdirected love.

Baker & Taylor
The descent into madness of sixty-one-year-old George Hall goes largely unnoticed due to his family members' preoccupations with their own individual relationship crises.

Blackwell North Amer
George Hall is an unobtrusive man. A little distant, perhaps, a little cautious, not quite at ease with the emotional demands of fatherhood, or manly bonhomie. He does not understand the modern obsession with talking about everything. "The secret of contentment, George felt, lay in ignoring many things completely." Some things in life, however, cannot be ignored.
At sixty-one, George is settling down to a comfortable retirement, building a shed in his garden, reading historical novels, and listening to a bit of light jazz. Then his tempestuous daughter, Katie, announces that she is getting remarried, to the deeply inappropriate Ray. Her family is not pleased - as her brother Jamie observes, Ray has "strangler's hands." Katie can't decide if she loves Ray, or loves the wonderful way he has with her son Jacob; and her mother Jean is a bit put out by all the planning and arguing the wedding has occasioned, which get in the way of her quite fulfilling late-life affair with one of her husband's ex-colleagues. And the tidy and pleasant life Jamie has created crumbles when he fails to invite his lover, Tony, to the dreaded nuptials.
Unnoticed in the uproar, George discovers a sinister lesion on his hip, and quietly begins to lose his mind.
The way these damaged people fall apart - and come together - as a family is the true subject of Haddon's portrait of a dignified man trying to go insane politely.

Baker
& Taylor

The descent into madness of sixty-one-year-old George Hall goes largely unnoticed due to his family members' preoccupations with their own individual relationship crises. 250,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Doubleday, c2006
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780385520515
0385520514
Branch Call Number: FICTION HADDON
Characteristics: 354 p.

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SteveDudley
Jun 15, 2017

Not nearly as good as the one about the dog in the nighttime. Was looking for an uplifting book to read and this title came up on several Google searches. It's anything but.

h
haileyj
Oct 30, 2016

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is quirky, witty, sad and a page-turner (to see where else this dysfunctional family will go next). George is a nice, if not exciting, man who is struggling to get through each day. He's a worrier and a bit of a hypochondriac. The character reminded me of Ove in A Man Called Ove and also of Harold in The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

f
funky_d
Nov 17, 2015

I enjoy Mark Haddon books. This is a family drama. Everyone is suffering his/her own crisis. The dialog is witty, the characters are compelling and it's entertaining.

t
trevordunfordswife
Oct 20, 2015

Simply awful. Did NOT find it funny - painfully or anyotherwise. Terribly disappointing after Dog in the Nighttime. Couldn't even finish it - highly unusual for me. Wasted hours of my life never coming back. Sigh.

o
ownedbydoxies
Jul 15, 2015

Love this book so much. It made me laugh aloud, sitting outside on the deck reading. Actually it's my second time reading it, it's just that good :)

WVMLStaffPicks Jan 24, 2015

A dignified retiree goes politely insane in this modern British farce from the author of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. George Hall and his dysfunctional family are likeable characters in a story told with deadpan timing and kind-hearted insight.

n
Norman C. Smith
Sep 10, 2014

I believed the blurb on the book flap, when I started, about this being about a painful descent into madness. So, I kept worrying that the admittedly bad situation was going to get worse.

In the end, however, I concluded that this book should be regarded as a farce, with some of the humour derived from things that I don't find very humourous.

It is well-written, and in the end I saw what was going on, but I think the blurb-writer should be fired.

Mewsician Jan 09, 2012

I guess there's a new category of fiction, called "painfully funny." If so, this book is absolutely in. If you don't the humor, I suppose the book will just be painful; certainly there is enough misery, and even self-inflicted violence, for that. But, come on! Isn't the author a Brit, and aren't the Brits just ace at understated humor? Isn't that why we love them so much? This family has a boatload of problems so we can enjoy all their foibles as they negotiate their lives. It's charming and winning and makes you realize you could be worse off.

ksoles May 19, 2011

In "A Spot of Bother," the follow-up to Mark Haddon's "The Curious Incident of The Dog in The Nighttime," protagonist George Hall becomes convinced that his eczema is actually cancer. He launches into a psychological tailspin while trying to channel a host of other problems: his daughter, Katie, is raising a toddler and is engaged to the unlikable Ray, his wife, Jean, is having an affair with George's co-worker and his son, Jamie, has been dumped by his boyfriend. Haddon does an amazing job of getting into the head of each character, intimately describing Jean's waffling over her affair, Katie's overwhelmed state as a single mother and George's depression. The book is hilariously odd but also touching and it leaves the reader with a genuine sympathy for poor George.

Cathy Mar 27, 2008

The total dysfunctionality of this family got on my nerves!

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Cathy Mar 27, 2008

Follows the trials of a dysfunctional family--anxious father, mother having an affair, daughter not sure whether to get married and a gay son not being able to commit.

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Annie_4444
Apr 01, 2014

“And it occurred to him that there were two parts to being a better person. One part was thinking about other people. The other part was not giving a toss what other people thought.” — 89 likes

“You love someone, you've got to let something go.” — 45 likes

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