by Edward St Aubyn
At Last is the fifth and final part of Edward St Aubyn's truly wonderful series of novels featuring Patrick Melrose. Starting with the extraordinary Some Hope, these black comedies follow Patrick's progress from abused child (at the hands of his psychopathic father, David) to abusive father himself: he is a drug addict and serial philanderer with more baggage than a Louis Vuitton warehouse. At Last takes place on a single day: the funeral of Patrick's mother, Eleanor. Their relationship is almost as complicated as the ones each had with David. Brutalised by his father, Patrick spent his life craving Eleanor's attention and wondering why she didn't stop her husband's brutality. Sadly, she was too busy searching for love of her own. It takes a while for the story to emerge. A mass of Melroses gather for the cremation in a bewildering series of formations. In some ways, this represents Patrick's state of mind: he has recently left drug rehabilitation. Luckily, his wit is as sharp as ever, slicing through the follies of his upper-class relatives. Read At Last by all means. But I suggest you start at the beginning, and buy Some Hope.