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At Last: A Novel Hardcover


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At Last: A Novel + The Patrick Melrose Novels: Never Mind, Bad News, Some Hope, and Mother's Milk
Price for both: $31.78

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (January 31, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374298890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374298890
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,310 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

With this title, St. Aubyn caps his five-volume cycle of Melrose novels. Patrick Melrose, introduced as a five-year-old in Never Mind (originally published in Great Britain in 1992), is now a middle-aged divorced alcoholic barrister living in a bedsit. As in the previous books, events in At Last take place over the course of a single day; in this case, the day of Patrick’s mother’s funeral. Despite his loss and his reduced circumstances, and having survived a past marked by abuse and drug addiction, Patrick has “at last” found a measure of peace. With lacerating humor and razor-sharp imagery, St. Aubyn continues to work out his themes: the follies of the British upper class, “the psychological impact of inherited wealth,” the complex dynamics between parent and child. Picador has also brought out the four other Patrick Melrose novels (Bad News, Some Hope, and Mother’s Milk, in addition to At Last) in a single volume, a great favor to American readers. --Mary Ellen Quinn

From Bookforum

At Last is still a terrific comedy of manners, and St. Aubyn's writing is as elegant and bright as always, but his leading man has become a bit tiresome. —Eric Banks

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Customer Reviews

I enjoyed this more anything I had read in a long . . . apart from other of his works in the same series.
Russell Colwell
The novelist he is most frequently compared to is Evelyn Waugh, but there is also very much the perfume of the Wildean bon mot in his delightfully wicked dialogue.
Charles Haas
As in the first four books, the very sharp and pointed humor relieves the essential darkness of the plot.
J. Lawson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Brian R. Lemaire on February 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As someone who just lost his mother two weeks before picking up the novel At Last, I found this book particularly resonant. It centers on the psychological changes Patrick Melrose goes through at the funeral of his mother. A healing process, coming to terms and getting past some of the abuse Patrick suffered at the hands of his father, the complicity of his ineffectual mother, and finally, a striving for greater free will in his life and repairing a relationship with his own wife and sons - an attempt to address life by responding to it, not in a more limited way, reacting to it.

Along the way we get comic relief from Fleur, a batty lady who adheres to fringe Eastern religious beliefs and from the unique Nicholas Pratt. Mr. Pratt, a snarky, opinionated, educated older gentleman, shows up at the funeral and bestows his sarcasm on anyone within range. Overall in this book though, class is a setting, not a central subject.

The depth of understanding, the intelligence about the human condition St. Aubyn shows in this book puts it in the same league as "Let the Great World Spin" by Colum McCann and more recently, "The Sense of an Ending" by Julian Barnes. The British Invasion!
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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By E. Keats on March 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Okay, reading is what I do. It's my joy, pain, school, friend, church. I'm that kind of addict. But never, ever has a character become such a part of me that I've dreamed about him. Last night Patrick, Robert, and Thomas Melrose all entered my dreams. Patrick is a part of me. His brilliant mind, his pain, his laugh-out-loud wit, his audacious courage in facing who he is and who his parents are (or aren't) have apparently found a home both in my conscious and subconscious mind. God, I just love these books. While reviewers compare St. Aubyn to everyone from Austin to Waugh, I've never read anyone quite like him: funny, excruciatingly painful, philosophical, psychological, satirical, political, romantic, all in beautiful, elegant prose that makes me sigh. I never underline novels, but these books begged to be underlined.

No Patrick is no longer a kid, but since we begin to care about him when he's just 5 and we see him grow and regress, learn and unlearn, come within a whisper of dying and then heal, we care for him the way we do with those we've loved over a long time. And we root for them in a deep, real way. So when Patrick decides to leave the lonely bedsit and make that phone call, well I took a long, happy deep breath and wished them all the best.

By the way, the reviewers who complain about the boys clearly don't know any precocious children. I find them both believable and damn adorable, and I've known a few small people who could hold their own with both of them.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Ripple on August 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
In "At Last", Edward St Aubyn returns to the Melrose family, the subject of both "Some Hope" and of his Booker-shortlisted "Mother's Milk". I confess that I have still not got around to reading the first of the trilogy, but loved "Mother's Milk" and found that I wasn't greatly disadvantaged by not having read the previous book. "At Last" could also be read as a stand-alone book, but I wouldn't advise this approach. You will miss out on so much that if you are planning on reading it, you really should read at least "Mother's Milk" first. This isn't much of an inconvenience as it's a terrific book.

I'd also add that if you are thinking of taking this route, you might want to stop reading this review at this point. While it's possible to give a taste of "At Last" without spoilers, the story follows on from "Mother's Milk", so the very set up means that if you don't want to know what happens, you might want to look away now.

St Aubyn's subjects are very much the upper class elite - and their self-centred behaviour as they squander their inheritances. That might not be to everyone's taste as a subject matter and certainly it isn't the life that most of us lead. But he sends them up beautifully and you will soon be laughing and shaking your head at their attitudes. St Aubyn's style is waspishly funny - for me, he is like a slightly more literary, English version of Brett Easton Ellis. There's a similar level of shock and bad behaviour, but he's a more humane writer than Easton Ellis.

OK, so I'm hoping that all those who plan on reading "Mother's Milk" have now left the room so I can reveal that the setting for "At Last" is the funeral of Eleanor - the mother who so infuriated her son Patrick in "Mother's Milk".
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Artie Fiss on October 18, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Patrick Melrose has become a fixture in my life -- at least in the past few months since I downloaded the eponymous "series" that may or may not end with AT LAST. He travels with me, dines with me, pops up in random conversations. Fictional characters are often labeled "unforgettable" -- and he is just that. I'd take this label a step farther: Patrick is indelible; the reader can no more abandon him than he might a birthmark or a scar. I keep reading new books hoping that he'll leave me alone and trouble someone else's sleep, but he always manages to interrupt like a hungry infant at midnight. In short, I came to feel responsible for Patrick, as if by turning the pages I could keep him alive to see another day.

You may not like Patrick -- he's one roiling mass of insecurities and inconstancies -- but find yourself loving him all the more. Edward St. Aubyn's novels trace Patrick's harrowing life from (to quote some horse-racing announcer whose name I've forgotten) first fall to that's all. He subjects Patrick to a litany of horrors that would make Guido de Montefeltro reconsider. Really wicked rich people do terrible things to each other and their children for almost 800 pages -- you'll never again want to be part of the .0001%. St. Aubyn spares nobody, not even Patrick, and you may find yourself wondering as I did why you are plowing ahead like an oversized lemming when you could be cooking dinner. It's not much fun, but it's amazing.

Except that AT LAST, there is the possibility of reconciliation, recovery, even redemption for Patrick. And always, always, there is the wit. I laughed out loud 742 times, a personal record. And always there are those incredible sentences, the kind you want to read aloud to a friend in another time zone. If you need a plot, look elsewhere.
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