‘Never Mind’ by Edward St. Aubyn – The Wretched Lives of the Very Rich and Prominent


‘Never Mind’ by Edward St. Aubyn (1992) – 132 pages


Is ‘Never Mind’ a comedy or a tragedy? The answer has to be that it is a great deal of both. It is very difficult to mix the comic and the tragic, but somehow Edward St. Aubyn maintains the delicate balance between wretchedness and wit.

The father David Melrose is a monster.

David grinned. He was in the mood for fun. After all, what redeemed life from complete horror was the almost unlimited number of things to be nasty about.”

And David’s behavior only gets nastier and nastier.

Mother Eleanor Melrose is an alcoholic.

At the beginning, there had been talk of using some of her money to start a home for alcoholics. In a sense they had succeeded.”

Poor five year old son Patrick Melrose!

Most of ‘Never Mind’ consists of aristocrats making insidious wicked fun of other rich and prominent aristocrats they know only too well. The Melrose’s friend Nicholas Pratt is a rich baronet. He has had five wives; now he has a young teenage girlfriend Bridgette.

She had left Nicholas in bed, snoring, like an old pig with terminal flu.”

It is great fun to read in a novel or story, one character describing another character in such a crude nasty fashion.

Obsequious and giggly with older and more powerful people, he turned savage at the smell of weakness, and would attack only easy prey…. Like many flatterers, he was not aware that he irritated the people he flattered.”

Nearly every sentence in ‘Never Mind’ has a mischievous, malevolent, wicked, nasty twist.

This party is really getting on my nerves. Men used to tell me how they used butter for sex, now they tell me how they’ve eliminated it from their diet.”

‘Never Mind’ is the first in the series of Patrick Melrose novels in which Patrick grows up. Considering his horrible start in life, it is somewhat surprising that Patrick would survive for four more novels.

With its curtains drawn, and lit only by pools of urine-coloured light splashed under the dark-yellow lampshades, the room looked both dim and rich. Like so many of one’s friends.”


Grade:    A



6 responses to this post.

  1. What serendipity – I read this book this week too! I agree with everything you said. I hear that #2 Bad News is even better.

    Liked by 1 person


    • Hi Annabel,
      I was already hooked, but your positive mention of ‘Bad News’ causes the line to get even tighter. 🙂 I can’t wait to read your review.

      Great minds think alike!

      Liked by 1 person


  2. I tried St Aubyn a long time ago and couldn’t get on with it but I watched the recent series starring Cumberbatch and was transfixed. I’ve never understood the lure of drugs (I’ve never even ever been drunk much less stoned) but I was fascinated.

    Liked by 1 person


    • Hi Lisa,
      I did not know there was a Patrick Melrose TV series with Benedict Cumberbatch. That fascinates me. I’m going to give that a try. I really enjoy him in movies and the Sherlock Holmes series.
      I went to a University where nearly everyone drank alcohol (UW-Madison), so can make no claims about never drinking.



      • LOL I didn’t say I’d never had a drink. We are semi-serious wine collectors here and have a cellar of beautiful aged wines. I’ve just never been drunk.



  3. […] also what Tony at Tony’s Book World thought of Never MInd – Serendipitously, we read this book at the same […]



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