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Review: A Spot of Bother

August 12, 2010

George Hall has just retired and doesn’t know what to do with himself.  He seems to be an observer of all the goings-on in his family’s life.  His daughter Katie is getting re-married, this time to a man who doesn’t seem like a good fit.  George’s wife is having an affair and his gay son, Jamie, is struggling with his love life.  George becomes convinced that his eczema is cancer and his mental health seems to take a downward spiral.  Things come to a head the weekend of Katie’s wedding.

When I saw that the audio version of  A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon was read by Simon Vance, I grabbed it, just so I could see why Jennifer and Sandy swoon so much over his work.  Let me tell you, they are right, Simon Vance is an outstanding reader – his vocal expressions and voices are second to none.  In fact, his work was the highlight of the book for me.

I’d heard a lot of good things about Mark Haddon’s work, but for me, A Spot of Bother was just okay.   The story just didn’t progress that much, so I didn’t find it all that interesting.  I found parts of it silly and found George’s hypochondria annoying after a while.

The book wasn’t all bad, though.  I enjoyed the exploration of the relationships between Katie, her fiance, and her son as well as the relationship between Jamie and his lover.   At the beginning of the book, I had some trouble keeping track of all the characters, so I wonder if I would have enjoyed this one more in print, in spite of the fantastic job done by Simon Vance.

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38 Comments leave one →
  1. August 12, 2010 5:26 am

    I have a copy of this one but I haven’t read it. I’ve heard mixed things about this one. I did love his other book The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night Time.

  2. August 12, 2010 6:40 am

    I read the book a few years ago (just looked it up) and gave it 3 stars. I liked The Curious Incident much more.
    You’ve got me writing Simon Vance’s name down to look for.

  3. August 12, 2010 6:49 am

    I missed this one…and I think I might keep on missing it.
    I have enough trouble keeping track of a bunch of characters when I read a book…how one does it with an audio book is beyond me.

  4. August 12, 2010 7:05 am

    I have almost picked this up many times in the bookstore but i keep getting distracted by other books.

    Sorry it didn’t work so well for you.

  5. August 12, 2010 7:22 am

    I doubt I will ever get the audio book but I should keep an eye out for this book. I like this kind of family story – one event sort of connecting with another.

  6. August 12, 2010 7:56 am

    I’m so glad you had the opportunity to be graced with the velvety voice of our dear Simon. You pair him up with a really good book? Watch out, your brain might explode. I really wish this book would have been better. The title reminds me of Winnie the Pooh.

  7. August 12, 2010 8:16 am

    I read this one years ago and didn’t really love it either. Just okay for me too.

  8. August 12, 2010 8:19 am

    I had mixed feelings on Haddon’s first book and never read anything else by him. I may give his YA book a try, and still have to check out that Simon Vance.

  9. August 12, 2010 9:24 am

    I have always wondered if I would like this book, and though you unfortunately had some problems, I actually think it might be one for me. I am not sure if I would listen to the audio version because I sometimes have problems with my audiobooks and my attention span, but I might try it in print! Thanks for the great review, Kathy!

  10. August 12, 2010 9:37 am

    It is so funny that you said that about Simon Vance, because the other day I was in Barnes & Noble and was perusing the audio section to find books read by him for the same reasons!!!

  11. August 12, 2010 9:37 am

    I do enjoy listening to Simon read anything.

    Thoughts in Progress

  12. August 12, 2010 9:46 am

    It’s been a while since I read this (listened, actually – I do like Simon Vance, who also reads the Girl With a Dragon Tattoo books), but I do agree with you that I found the parts about the kids a lot more enjoyable than the parts about the parents.

  13. August 12, 2010 10:20 am

    I read this one a few years ago and liked it. Now, I’m going to have to pay attention to the names of readers and look for Simon Vance!

  14. Kaye permalink
    August 12, 2010 10:31 am

    Too bad that you had an audio with a wonderful reader and a so-so story. I find it hard to keep track of things on audio books. For some reason, (probably old age) my mind wanders and I can tend to nod off. I’m better off with a print version.
    Have a great week and happy reading. Hopefully your next book will be a real winner.

  15. August 12, 2010 10:42 am

    It is a shame that this was more interesting as it sounded promising.

  16. August 12, 2010 10:48 am

    I have such a time listening to audio books. Sorry this one didn’t move you much.

  17. August 12, 2010 10:58 am

    I read A Spot of Bother and loved it. I always enjoy Mark Haddon’s work and wish there was more of it.

    I don’t listen to a lot of audiobook’s although I keep meaning to try more. Maybe a book read by Simon Vance! I don’t know if some of this book was lost in the listening but when I read it I found it to be very funny, smart, insightful and enjoyable.

    I’m sorry it wasn’t for you, Kathy.
    ~ Amy

  18. August 12, 2010 11:11 am

    There’s nothing quite so annoying as someone else’s hypochondria, is there?

  19. stacybuckeye permalink
    August 12, 2010 12:07 pm

    I don’t usually keep track of the narrators, but I’ll have to look for Simon Vance since he is so highly recommended!

  20. August 12, 2010 12:07 pm

    I loved The Curious Incident… so much that I may still have to check this one out!

  21. August 12, 2010 12:08 pm

    I have this one in print, but I’m afraid it’s been languishing on the shelf for awhile now.

  22. August 12, 2010 12:22 pm

    I have heard of Haddon but have not read him. I made an attempt at Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night but didn’t get far. My book club loved it so I may need to try again.

  23. August 12, 2010 1:47 pm

    I went to the narrator’s website and saw he did The Girl with the Dragon tattoo. Since my husband is pressuring me to read that one, I requested it from my library. we’ll see if I cave and read it before the audio book is available, I’m #140 right now. lol

  24. August 12, 2010 1:49 pm

    I love the title of this one. It sounds as if this book was so-so for you. Maybe you would have enjoyed it more in print, as you say.

  25. August 12, 2010 1:54 pm

    I love the title, too. It’s a shame the book was just okay.

  26. Kathleen permalink
    August 12, 2010 2:42 pm

    I guess I can put this one on my “maybe someday” list!

  27. August 12, 2010 3:19 pm

    I have had this book for forever…and never wanted to settle down and actually read it…and now I know why…

  28. August 12, 2010 6:39 pm

    I really liked THE CURIOUS INCIDENT, and someone gave me a copy of this one to read. I’ve never gotten around to it, and it doesn’t sound like I need to hurry. I wonder if he’s done anything recently.

  29. August 12, 2010 10:29 pm

    I have a Mark Haddon waiting for me – forget the title but I picked it up after I read “curious” – hope it’s better than this one. Wonder what the narrator thinks when he has to read a mediocore book.

  30. August 13, 2010 3:36 am

    I’m sorry this wasn’t better! I’ve yet to read anything by Mark Haddon.

  31. August 13, 2010 6:18 am

    I’ve never listened to Simon Vance before but there’s nothing better than a good narrator for an audiobook 🙂

  32. August 13, 2010 1:12 pm

    I’ve not heard of this one either but it doesn’t really sound like one I’d like much.

  33. August 14, 2010 10:44 pm

    I couldn’t get into this one, personally. I’m giving it away on my blog right now, in fact! This seems like one I’d have much better luck with on audio.

  34. August 15, 2010 12:17 am

    I read this book awhile ago and while I love Haddon’s writing, I was less than impressed with the book. I still enjoyed it on some level, just not as much as I would have liked. It sounds like it was the same for you.

  35. August 15, 2010 1:27 am

    I’m curious to read this at some point. The Curious Incident is DEFINITELY a good book. I highly recommend that one. 🙂 Sorry it wasn’t that great…but yay for finding a fun audio at least!

  36. August 15, 2010 1:22 pm

    I might skip this book but it definitely sounds like I should remember Simon Vance in the future as a reader of interest.

  37. August 15, 2010 7:53 pm

    I read this awhile ago … but obviously I should have listened to it if it was read by the oh-so-swoonworthy Simon Vance!

  38. August 21, 2010 10:24 am

    I’ve read quite a few reviews about this book and most of them share your thoughts too.

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