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Publisher's Summary

A reimagining of one of Shakespeare's most well-known tragedies, by the contemporary, critically acclaimed master of domestic drama.

Henry Dunbar, the once all-powerful head of a global media corporation, is not having a good day. In his dotage, he hands over care of the corporation to his two eldest daughters, Abby and Megan, but, as relations sour, he starts to doubt the wisdom of past decisions.

Now, imprisoned in Meadowmeade, an upscale sanatorium in rural England, with only a demented alcoholic comedian as company, Dunbar starts planning his escape. As he flees into the hills, his family is hot on his heels. But who will find him first, his beloved youngest daughter, Florence, or the tigresses Abby and Megan, so keen to divest him of his estate?

Edward St Aubyn is renowned for his masterwork, the five Melrose novels, which dissect with savage and beautiful precision the agonies of family life. His take on King Lear, Shakespeare's most devastating family story, is an excoriating novel for and of our times - an examination of power, money, and the value of forgiveness.

©2017 Edward St. Aubyn (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"A brilliant reworking of William Shakespeare's King Lear for our day." ( Kirkus)
"Perhaps the most brilliant English novelist of his generation." (Alan Hollinghurst)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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    3 out of 5 stars
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depressing tale of horrid people

The narration is amazingly stupendous. His voices for the senile, psychotic old men, the condescending nurse, the greedy daughters, the vicious hit men are painfully believable and fantastically acted.

The author's prose is delicious, full of delightful imagery and alliteration.There is humor in his word choice and juxtaposition.

It's just that the story is awful. There's a mad hermit gay defrocked priest, a cliché of a corrupt doctor, a foolish randy body guard, mention of an old death that might be murder but is not further discussed, torture and suicide, another death that is murder but is also not solved or resolved.

Two sadistic sisters want to trick their failing dad out of the family business. One family friend wants to trick them out of their trick. The third daughter just wants Daddy to be well and happy again. Daddy Dunbar stumbles through a freezing moor while his unhinged mind rambles through his life's regrets not knowing if he is mad or sane. About 3/4ths of the way through, there is some nasty action, and some tension, then there's resolution and forgiveness, and then it all ends horribly. If this is an allegory for our politics or society, we can all just slit our wrists now. Maybe this is good for some philosophy course in nihilism, I don't know. Not nice.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Don’t bother

I take issue with books like this being labeled as “literary masterpieces,” Shakespeare-based or no. This is little other than a boring tale of the worst kind of overprivileged people, embellished with some sadomasochistic sex to keep the interest of perverted overprivileged men. If a woman’s name was on the cover of this, it would be called “a fun beach read,” at best. The narrator is certainly talented and likely has a theater background, and he has a knack for accents, but the whole King Lear wandering through the woods begging for his sanity for three chapters thing was cringe-worthy, and what ultimately led me to exchange the book for something else.

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Hogarth Shakespeare Novel Sizzles

Finally, a modern Shakespeare that succeeds with the rapid fire wit of Edward St. Aubyn. Most Americans aren’t familiar with St. Aubyn who is truly among the best living English writers. This tale of King Lear in the twenty first century is loaded with scintillating dialogue, and characters whose greed and debauchery might be too vivid for the easily offended- I, for one, found them fascinating. Dunbar himself as King Lear is repulsive, yet there’s some remaining humanity within his obsession with power. Two of his daughters are disgustingly spoiled, and the “doctor” who toadies to their every sexual and drug craving is just plain bad. My favorite character is the British actor who befriends Dunbar in a mental hospital where the two daughters have plotted to have him committed. Here, Audible shines, because the narrator enlivens all of his mimicry with aplomb.