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Patrick Melrose Books In Order

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Publication Order of Patrick Melrose Books

As a resolutely British author, the writer Edward St. Aubyn is very much a singular voice with a lot to say. Largely writing from his own personal experience, he brings a fresh and unique perspective to the table, taking aim at the many mores and traditions of upper class society. This has lead to him amassing a large audience both nationally and internationally, with many relating to him and his work. A perfect example of this is his series of ‘Patrick Melrose’ novels, which follow the lead character throughout the many stages of his life, from childhood onwards. Living an unhappy and abusive upper class childhood, he later spirals into a life of addiction and misery. Taken from Aubyn’s own experiences somewhat, it manages to provide a very real portrait of this life, whilst also being witty and funny in equal measure.

Spanning out over a total of five novels, the Patrick Melrose series as a whole is one complete story, looking at the dysfunctional life of its lead protagonist, as he makes sense of his troubled upbringing and existence. It also takes a look at the lifestyles of the upper-classes, along with the many problems that can be found in such a life. Being adapted for both the cinema and the small screen, ‘Mother’s Milk’ was made into a 2012 film, along with a five-part series starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the lead role coming out in 2018. This has lead to renewed attention on numerous occasion, finding scores of fans worldwide, all finding something they can relate to within the books. Winning numerous awards, they have come to portray the decadence of the aristocracy, whilst deep down commenting on the futility of inherited wealthy, something which Aubyn has sought to make abundantly clear throughout his work.

Never Mind

Originally brought out in 1992 through the ‘William Heinemann’ publishing label, this would come to set the franchise up as a whole. Establishing the lead character of Patrick Melrose himself, it also sets about relating Aubyn’s insights on the upper classes and his own upbringing. This makes for a highly acerbic take on a dysfunctional and broken childhood, something which Aubyn handles with both wit and anger.

At the young age of five, Patrick Melrose is introduced for the first time residing in the house of his mother in the south of France. Retreating into the care of the garden there, he seeks to get away from his parents, with his father being a sadistic disciplinarian using carefully considered cruelty, whilst his mother is an alcoholic who spends the most of her time drunk. Both of them together lead Patrick to experience an unpleasant upbringing, as they manage to make the whole ordeal entirely miserable for him. Set in the 1960s, this manages to capture the essence of the time, as it shows the making of Patrick Melrose in this semi-autobiographical novel from Aubyn.

Bad News

Initially coming out in 1992, this was first brought out as part of a three edition omnibus collating the first three titles together. Continuing on from the last it travels ahead into the early twenties of Patrick Melrose and where he has found himself now. Looking at the psychology of his own inner turmoil, it works at building his character, giving him a greater level of depth.

Moving onto the eighties, this sees Patrick Melrose as now a young man of twenty-two, as he now finds himself deep within the throes of addiction. Needing to collect the ashes of his recently deceased father from New York, he ends up spending the weekend there in Manhattan desperately searching for drugs. This leads him further down the spiral, as he heads into a nightmarish world of long forgotten memories and deep seated fear. Finding himself hanging on the edge, he must deal with the many inner voices in his head, along with ghosts from the past.

Some Hope

This time coming out in 1994, the novel would present a somewhat more optimistic tone, as it takes Patrick Melrose in a whole new direction. Working as another installment, it makes for an essential part of the overall series narrative, operating in conjunction with the rest. Watching the character of Melrose evolve, this is a witty and intelligent follow-up to the previous two novels in the franchise.

This time the narrative has travelled ahead to find Patrick Melrose now clean, having apparently pulled his life together. It would seem the demons of his past still haunt him though, as he must find a way to release himself from them if he ever hopes to live a peaceful life. That could prove to be more difficult than he initially anticipated though, as he must fight against returning to his old ways.

Mother’s Milk

Coming out in 2005 on the 11th of October, this would be the fourth title in the ongoing series of Patrick Melrose novels. Set a few years ahead of the original trilogy, this finds the lead reverting back to his old ways once again, doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. Bringing the action forwards, the story is handled with both wit and poise in the ever incisive manner of Edward St. Aubyn.

Taking place in 2000 this time, the story catches up with Patrick Melrose once again, as he is this time found to be a father. With a five year old son, his wife is once again pregnant, and he is somewhat churlish and adrift, as he is now drinking again. This leads him to once again look into his past, as he must deal with the life fatherhood that lies before him now.

At Last

Essentially wrapping the series up, this was initially written in 2011, moving on some years. This time it sees Patrick Melrose as he attends to the funeral of his mother. Looking to make some sense of his life, he must come to terms with life without his parents, and if this will really allow him to finally put the past behind him at last?

The Patrick Melrose Series

Working as one entire collection, this series shows a complete story, one which had been a long time in the making for the author. Displaying both wit and caustic intelligence, this manages to capture a snapshot of a certain way of life, whilst also tapping into the truly self destructive mentality behind addiction. This has ensured that this particular series will stand the test of time for many years to come, with readers worldwide enjoying them from generations to follow.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Patrick Melrose

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