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This audiobook starts off innocently enough—with a few minutes of bright, punchy Christmas music—but as we meet each resident of Pine Cove, Calif., the story bends, becoming as twisted as an image in a funhouse mirror. Lena Marquez is the sanest of the bunch, even if she does have a habit of wreaking violence on her ex-husband, known here as the "Evil Developer." Then there's Lena's best friend Molly, a former B-movie actress who hears voices, occasionally believes herself to be "The Warrior Babe of the Outland" and is married to the town constable, Theo, a former pot addict who's slipping off the wagon. To top that off, there's Tucker, a lonely pilot who has a Micronesian fruit bat for a pet, and a rather witless archangel named Raziel who comes to Earth to grant one boy's Christmas wish. It is that wish which turns this Christmas comedy into a holiday horror story. Roberts narrates the whole affair with skill, using his warm, hearty voice to great effect. His is the kind of voice that one would expect to hear in the audio version of A Christmas Carol or a children's storybook, which makes him the perfect reader for this book since it is, in part, a parody of the Christmas classics—albeit a gruesomely entertaining one. Whether crooning a few bars of the blues, personifying the dead or delivering one of the story's uplifting messages ("Life is messy. People generally suck"), Roberts's velvet voice rings with mirth, accentuating the humor and absurdity of each moment.
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. . . one of the most amazing reading experiences I've had in a decade. After all the suffering and torment and despair that Patrick Melrose has been through over the years, [St. Aubyn] leaves him in a very interesting place, and he does it all with his incredible examination of the sweep of time and the way our understanding of people changes over decades. All of that is done with this incredible, biting, witty, hilarious prose style, the elegant, classic English sentences that he writes and these amazing put-downs, and he's great at dissecting an entire social world with a really wicked scalpel. (Michael Chabon, The Los Angeles Times)
Remarkable . . . In order to understand what makes these novels so exceptional, it's better to open any one of them at random, marveling at the precise observations and glistening turns of phrase, not to mention dialogue witty enough to make our own most clever conversations sound like . . . well, like St. Aubyn's Princess Margaret. (Francine Prose, The New York Times Book Review)
[At Last] offers up everything that one could hope for in a good novel. (Christopher A. Gellert, The Washington Square New)
St. Aubyn's skill with characterization, his dissection of how a personality warps, settles, or improves over time, is nowhere more evident than in his aging of Patrick, whose mood and mental state are a gauge for the tone of each novel. . . At Last is far less dramatic than any previous Melrose book, although the humor and perfectly observed dialogue remain. Its calm is entirely suited to the wisdom Patrick Melrose has painfully, finally earned. (Victoria Beale, The New Republic)
St. Aubyn writes with exquisite control and a brilliant comic touch. . . An intelligent and surprisingly hopeful novel, a fitting conclusion to one of the best fictional cycles in contemporary fiction. (Anthony Domestico, The Boston Globe)
You have to drill down pretty far and pretty mercilessly to get to the vulnerable, human soul of someone like Patrick. But St. Aubyn does, and he mines extraordinary amounts of humor and pathos out of Patrick's thin, bedraggled life. . . St. Aubyn's prose recalls Virginia Woolf's; it has the same combination of lyricism and precision. (Lev Grossman, Time)
Piercing. . . Mr. St. Aubyn shares Patrick's gift for observation, and his radar for pictorial and emotional detail enables him to capture just about anything in his pointillist prose. (Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times)
On every page of St. Aubyn's work is a sentence or a paragraph that prompts a laugh, or a moment of enriched comprehension. (James Wood, The New Yorker)
Delightfully packed with gross privilege, dysfunction, and savage humor. (Deirdre Foley-Mendelssohn, The Paris Review (staff pick))
St. Aubyn's humor and elegance transform harrowing subject matter into irresistible prose. (Maura Egan, W Magazine)
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. (Mary Ellen Quinn, Booklist)
Stunning, sparkling fiction. . . Deeply affecting. (Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal)
It's tough competition for the most-underrated writer in the English language--there's plenty of neglect to go around -- but if you put a Colt Commander to my head (see below) I might well say it's St. Aubyn, the chronically under-published chronicler of abuse, dysfunction, alcoholism and worse in the English upper classes. At Last is the final novel, one thinks, in his series about his alter ego, the neurotic Patrick Melrose. It's pretty much a lock to be one of the funniest, saddest, most beautiful books of the year. (Lev Grossman, Time)
The Melrose novels by Edward St. Aubyn are a masterwork for the 21st century. Written by one of our greatest English prose stylists, they present a cornucopia of humor, pathos, razor sharp judgment, pain, joy, and everything in between. (Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones)
Sparkling . . . With the wit of Wilde, the lightness of Wodehouse, and the waspishness of Waugh, [St. Aubyn] wraps his fancy prose style around the self in extremis ("suffocated, dropped, born of raped as well as born to be raped"), situations more familiar to readers of Cooper or Burroughs. (Zadie Smith, Harper's)
A miraculously wrought piece of art. (Suzi Feay, The Financial Times)
St. Aubyn's technique is to crystallise emotional intensity into sentences of arctic beauty, which can be caustically witty or brutal. His novels are uncommonly well controlled, and thus their impact is all the more powerful… In At Last this crystallisation and control are on glittering display…We have reached the pinnacle of a series that has plunged into darkness and risen towards light. At Last is both resounding end and hopeful beginning. (Philip Womack, The Telegraph)
Ferociously funny, painfully acute and exhilaratingly written. . . Brimming with witty flair, sardonic perceptiveness and literary finesse. (Peter Kemp, The Sunday Times)
The thing that everyone loves about this man . . . is that his prose has an easy charm that masks a ferocious, searching intellect. As a sketcher of character, his wit -- whether turned against pointless members of the aristocracy or hopeless crack dealers -- is ticklingly wicked. As an analyser of broken minds and tired hearts he is as energetic, careful and creative as the perfect shrink. And when it comes to spinning a good yarn, whether over the grand scale of three volumes or within a single page of anecdote, he has a natural talent for keeping you on the edge of your seat . . . [An] amazing book. (Melissa Katsoulis, The Times)