“A Spot of Bother” by Mark Haddon

George has recently retired and is settling into a leisurely life, building a studio in the back garden and ready to rekindle a childhood interest in art, when he is suddenly bought face to face with his own mortality as a friends dies suddenly, and George finds a lesion on his own hip which he’s convinced will be the death of him. The book follows George’s unravelling mental well-being, alongside the everyday life of his wife and two grown up children and the impact of the discovery and its affect effects on the family.

This was one of my reading group books last month, and I have to admit, I was apprehensive before I started it, as I’ve never managed to get past page 22 of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Easy going writing, and a great characterisation of the male lead, I found this a comfortable book to sit and read. The short chapters, in turns focusing on different characters, were a god send for someone with limited reading time and the small number of characters (the main focus is on the four members of the family, George in particular) meant it was easy to dip in and out when time allowed.

I thought the characterisation of the men was very good, but the females seemed to be slightly more sketchy, although their stories were all there if you looked carefully enough, and picked up the details from a small, often throwaway line in their own chapters.

I was unfortunate enough to be reading while having lunch one day, when I read the graphic scene where George decides to take action, which certainly made me squirm, but was actually one of the best chapters in the book for me, as it really seemed to show the depth of what George was going through mentally, and yet how he managed to make it seem to himself like a perfectly sensible thing to do.

Overall, I thought it was a good read, although I’m still not sure I’d read any more by this author unless I was prompted to by a book group or reading circle.

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