Stylish, whip-smart and very funny. There is no protagonist as such. Rather, the four members of a nuclear family are examined in turn as they cope with the loss of their last connection to former glories.
Patrick, the father, at times resembles a Kingsley Amis anti-hero played by John Cleese. Sometimes the insight into character is incredible, sometimes it sounds like someone who knows humans only through a psychology textbook. A sojourn in America allows St Aubyn to unload just about every cliche the English love to use about that country. In sum, there are many uneven patches here, but the unfaltering elegance of the style and the deep sympathy St Aubyn feels with his characters carries the book along.
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