Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn (“He would not debase himself; he would not be ruled by his children and insulted by his jailers.”)

Does Edward St. Aubyn ever disappoint? Not me. His acerbic writing style cuts as sharply as any sword; I find myself reading and rereading his lines in great admiration.

Megan looked startled and upset. How easy she was to dominate. These Dunbar girls were arrogant, imperious, and tough, but toughness was not strength, imperiousness was was not authority, and their arrogance was an unearned pride born of an unearned income.

Two of the Dunbar girls, Megan and Abigail, have consorted with Dr. Bob to have their father admitted to a sanatorium named Meadowmeade so that they can take over the Dunbar Trust. They have done it all on the sly, leaving their sister Florence to find out on her own what has become of their father, only beloved by her.

It is a modern day retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear, and it is wonderful.

The story alternates between Henry Dunbar’s escape, the machinations of the two elder sisters, and sweet Florence.

“I am not my family,” said Florence.

“Well, I’ll be pondering the profundity of that remark for the rest of the day, I’m sure,” said Dr. Harris. “Nevertheless,…I want to make it clear that I will not be bullied by your sisters or their representatives. I deeply regret your father’s disappearance, but not as much as I regret accepting him here in the first place. Celebrities are usually more trouble than they’re worth, but in the case of your father, who is also an immensely powerful man, his presence here has been a complete disaster.

Dunbar, at eighty years of age, is stubborn and strong, yet susceptible to haunting memories which torment him as he makes his escape through the rugged terrain. (What a perfectly fitting jacket cover!)

I read on, identifying with Florence as she safeguards her father, wondering what will become of those who seek to take his fortune. His sanity. His identity. It may be a retelling of Shakespeare’s King Lear, but Dunbar has every right to stand on its own.

This has been a terrific read to finish up December, and still there is time to see what will fit on my Best of 2017 List. There is always a place for Edward St. Aubyn there.

(Buy it here with free shipping and delivery worldwide.)

6 thoughts on “Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn (“He would not debase himself; he would not be ruled by his children and insulted by his jailers.”)”

  1. Sounds like a great read, and the cover is so classy. From what you’ve described in your review, could make one absorbing movie, albeit purists will not want to see that happen. 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Bellezza.


    1. The cover was one of the first things that drew my attention to the novel, then finding it was written by Edward St. Aubyn sealed the deal.

      You have such an eye for film, and indeed I think this would make a fine one. The scenes lend themselves perfectly, and the lines would be even more incredible spoken by strong actors.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I devoured the Melrose novels, too. This has a similar tone, and accusations, but is not (of course) nearly so in-depth. Dunbar is barely more than 200 pages, but it so good. The ending has me thinking and thinking.


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