Mother's Milk by Edward St. Aubyn (2006). Writing with the scathing wit and bright perceptiveness, English author Edward St. Aubyn creates a complex family portrait that examines the shifting allegiances between mothers, sons, and husbands. The novel’s perspective ricochets among all members of the Melrose family—the family featured in St. Aubyn’s widely praised trilogy, Some Hope—starting with Robert, who provides an exceptionally droll and convincing account of being born; to Patrick, a hilariously churlish husband who has been sexually abandoned by his wife in favor of his sons; to Mary, who’s consumed by her children and overwhelming desire not to repeat the mistakes of her own mother. All the while, St. Aubyn examines the web of false promises that entangle this once illustrious family—whose last vestige of wealth, an old house in the south of France—is about to be donated by Patrick’s mother to a New Age foundation. The result is an up-to-the-minute dissection of the mores of child-rearing, marriage, adultery, and assisted suicide, written in luminous and acidic prose that combines the most excruciating emotional pain with the driest comedy.
Total Points: 8 (AWald 8)