The Patrick Melrose series… selectively…
You may not have Sky Atlantic, so be a bit allergic to the fuss that is being made about Benedict Cumberbatch’s epic performance in this TV adaptation of the Edward St Aubyn novels.
But it is great – everything about the show is mesmerising. I didn’t want it to end so sought out the original material.
The series is based on some shortish books known as “The Patrick Melrose novels” and I have approached them with a terror and trepidation that you might use when crossing a minefield in, like, Cambodia or deal with an unexploded WWII bomb discovered underneath playground of a primary school.
I say that because, if you don’t already know, the story contains child abuse and torture of the sort I’m really not okay with reading or knowing about and do not want to stumble across a lot of detail.
I’m simply not one of those people who thinks that it is part of one’s humanitarian duty to really get face to face with, say, exactly the kinds of things that happened in the Holocaust or in Serbia.
I’m quite alright not knowing, thanks! I can imagine.
I often turn, out of the corner of my eye, a coat hanging on a peg into a man coming to kill me and regularly jump at small noises. It’s a sort of gift. I don’t need exact details to freak out about anything.
Anyway the books! They are, in order:
Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, Mother’s Milk, At Last.
If you are squeamish about child abuse, I have vetted for you Some Hope and Simon Conway read Bad News and we enjoyed them both enormously and there was only very fleeting references to awful stuff; mostly it was fabulous writing and highly entertaining social satire about how miserable rich people are – and who doesn’t want to read about that?
I started At Last, but to my mind it wasn’t his best stuff; I’m not touching Never Mind with a barge pole.
This works best if you have already seen some of the TV series and would like to re-live the glory in your own time. But if you haven’t seen it, a bit of imagination will probably do the trick.