A reimagining of one of Shakespeare's most well-read tragedies, by the contemporary, critcally 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.

Hogarth 258 pages

  • Reviews

Jen Paul

4 months ago

Making amends can be a tiresome, difficult task, especially when it comes to making amends with your family. In Edward St. Aubyn's Dunbar, the patriarch of a powerful corporation, seeks to make things right for the daughter he spurned in favor of his two other daughters who are more like him.

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Henry Dunbar has built a corporate empire for himself, making his family incredibly wealthy and powerful; however, his beloved youngest daughter, Florence, has challenged him over the years in her views, which caused him to remove her and her children from benefiting from his accumulated fortune. After escaping from the sanatorium in which his other two greedy daughters had him sequestered, Dunbar is confused and trying to make his way to London. As the two eldest daughters seek to secure their financial future with an orchestrated board vote that excludes their father, the race is on to find Dunbar before it's too late.

As a more contemporary and accessible interpretation of Shakespeare's King Lear, this story hits the key themes and emotional notes of the source material but does little to make the story more. Exploring the way familial relationships can be strained in relation to money and having power, the narrative demonstrates the sad realities of society and how there's more to life and happiness than money. With characters from the original source who are combined the cast and plot are more streamlined, although the two eldest sisters seem like broad stroke representations of villainous figures instead of the more complex characters they ought to be.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.