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At Last, By Edward St Aubyn
Arifa Akbar is literary editor of The Independent and i newspapers. She has worked at The Independent since 2001 as a news reporter and arts correspondent before joining the books desk in 2009. She was a judge for the Orwell Prize for books, 2013, and is currently a judge of the Fiction Uncovered Prize 2014, and the Independent Scholastic New Children's Prize 2014.
Friday 13 April 2012
With At Last, Edward St Aubyn ends his semi-autobiographical series featuring the upper-class Melrose family.
The first of five novels began with Never Mind (1992), and dramatised Patrick Melrose's horrifying rape at the hands of his father, aged five.
This final installment offers Patrick – now a flawed husband and father whose life has been pockmarked by the fall-out of abuse and drug addiction – a final release. His mother, Eleanor, who he feels colluded in his early abuse if only through her blindness to it, has died.
Written as a set-piece extending across her four-hour funeral, it is as satirical as it is profound. Patrick's inner voice might still echo with dark hilarity and rage, but the final few pages suggest a shift in his being. At last, he may be ready to move on.
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