The Patrick Melrose Novels - Edward St. Aubyn

If you've ever wondered what became of the Dedlocks of Chesney Wold you need look no further than this quartet of novels by Edward St. Aubyn. According to him, they changed their name to Melrose and fled to the South of France. We first meet Patrick Melrose as a lad of five in Never Mind. Poor Patrick battles against a brilliant, criminally-sadistic father and his criminally-negligent, rich American wife, who is capable of mothering only in the abstract. As much as Dickens predicted the decline of the Gentry, even he might be shocked by the antics of the Melrose clan and their guests during a weekend of boozing and debauchery. 

In the next book Bad News, we watch in fascinated horror as Patrick grows into adulthood while he sinks into addiction. As he jets between two continents, we marvel at his brilliance and are crushed by his dissolution. This might seem like a journey to avoid, but he is such good company. He shares his attempts to fend off madness by ingesting every mind-altering substance ever invented. He recounts a weekend in Manhattan in his 20's, which could be described as a long day's journey into Disco Hell: Imagine a date between Mary Tyrone and Jay McInerney

Obviously this can't go on forever, so the third and fourth books,Some Hope and Mother's Milk, are concerned with his experiments in sobriety and parenting. His father haunts him throughout, but it is mother who strikes the final blow when she squanders his inheritance. In my efforts at self-improvement, I attempted to highlight particularly brilliant passages to share. I had to abandon this when I counted forty in the first book alone. You're just going to have to discover them for yourself. And after you're completely hooked, as I am, you can console yourself in the knowledge that the fifth Patrick Melrose novel, At Last: A Novel is as close as a click on your kindle.


Here's an excellent review of it: