Mother's Milk by Edward St Aubyn read TWICE and, after Some Hope, yes it read like a completely different book.
Back story was everything for me here and that may provide my Booker jury of one with a problem in its deliberations tomorrow.
Armed with what had gone before, I understood with clarity just what Edward St Aubyn was trying to do.Even the gifted and articulate children didn't annoy me because I think I appreciated what was going on there too.
Patrick now married and the father of Robert and Thomas, spends his life trying to compensate for the dire inadequacies of his own childhood, but his wife Mary is busy doing likewise and trying to compensate for her own difficult beginnings.Mary needs to be needed, Patrick needs to be nurtured and tended constantly and once children come along the balance shifts precariously.Astute children are in place to spot and highlight all the flaws and they do.
Creaking along in the background is Patrick's mother,Eleanor, now in failing health but continuing to make demands on her son which he struggles to deal with.This is the mother who failed in one of her most fundamental duties, that of protecting Patrick from his father.You only really know this from back story and the knowledge completely changed my reading of the book.
All this provides a fantastic tangle of emotions all inter-woven with Patrick's dry wit and self-deprecating humour that has you laughing at moments when really you shouldn't.
Edward St Aubyn's writing is certainly off-beat and full of original, unusual and acutely observed imagery and it is one of the joys of reading him, little tiny snippets of description that grab the attention and stick in the mind.
In Mother's Milk the colour of the Chinese rug was mouse's-underbelly pink, what a perfect description for that washed out colour, you almost expect to see it on the Farrow & Ball colour chart alongside eating room red and dead salmon.
So yes indeed, I'm a complete convert but as to where that leaves Mother's Milk in my Booker-thon standings, well the suspense will kill you all I know but no pronouncements until tomorrow.
My jury of one is preparing to deliberate.