*** 1/2 A Spot of Bother By Mark Haddon
A British suburban family slowly falls apart.
While trying on trousers, aging patriarch George Hall discovers a large purple lesion on his hip. He immediately assumes the spot to be cancer and himself to be doomed. As he struggles with existential angst, the troubles pile on: his daughter, Katie, wants to marry a laborer whom she's not sure she loves; his son won't admit to being gay (though everyone knows he is); and his wife is having an affair with one of his former colleagues. Despite their individual difficulties, everyone attempts to pull together and become a family once again, ready to face Katie's impending wedding with as much humor as dread.
Doubleday. 354 pages. $24.95. ISBN: 0385520514
NY Times Book Review **** 1/2
"[Haddon is] so wondrously articulate, so rigorous in thinking through his characters' mind-sets, that A Spot of Bother serves as a fine example of why novels exist.... Beyond the zingers and tragicomic domestic set pieces, Haddon is especially heroic in capturing the tortured dynamics of nuclear-family life." DAVID KAMP
Cleveland Plain Dealer ****
"This novel is every bit as good as Haddon's best-selling debut ... and better if you give extra credit for droll humor.... A Spot of Bother pulls off the smart trick of delivering fully human characters whose flaws make them almost impossible to live with, then depicts their love for one another as completely convincing." KAREN SANDSTROM
Washington Post ****
"Haddon has made us suffer his characters' confusions, heartaches, and desperation. But then their problems are all resolved in an oddly conventional, even pat, Hollywood finale.... Still, one should hardly disdain fine craftsmanship, especially when a novel gets so many things exactly right." MICHAEL DIRDA
Chicago Tribune *** 1/2
"Despite the angst, Haddon's is a tender universe, one in which warmth and humor will peek out even in extremity. ... Mortality, fallibility, forgiveness, what goes assumed--those are big issues that Haddon raises with a light hand in a book that, despite its serious side, approaches the picaresque in both plot and...