Dunbar is an old man, a former mogul, who retired and gave up his valuable shares as well as his seat on the board of trustees of his global empire. He is now in a retirement home, although a luxurious one, kept sedated, and is rendered literally helpless by his two greedy and conniving daughters. His third, a more sympathetic daughter, eventually comes to his rescue.The book is by Edward St. Aubyn, published October 24, 2017 by Hogarth.
Hogarth Press has been publishing books based on Shakespearean plays. Dunbar is based on the King Lear story. In this retelling of the King Lear play, we watch as the eighty-year -old Dunbar, now old, forgetful, and scattered, escapes from his retirement home with the help of his friend Peter, who plays the part of the unlucky Fool. Dunbar hides on the cold and snowy countryside as his daughters send people out to find him, to imprison him in an Austrian sanatorium or asylum, while they plunder his legacy and take it over finally for their own. The third and more sympathetic daughter, Florence, finds her father but the other daughters plot their revenge.
The book, set in modern times, follows King Lear quite closely. How the author adapts it to today is ingenious and the storytelling and characters remain compelling. The book concentrates on Dunbar's awakening to the beauty of the natural world, his realization of the former cruel treatment of his daughter Florence, and to a late joy in the things in life that he finds are really meaningful.
Five stars for an excellent reimagining of Shakespeare's play.
"We're off our meds," whispered Dunbar.
"We're off our meds/We're off our heads,"sang Peter, "we're out of our beds/ and we're off our meds!
Yesterday," he continued in a conspiratorial whisper, "We were drooling into the lapels of our terry cloth dressing gowns, but now we're off out meds! We've spat them out; we've tranquilized the aspidistras. If those fresh lilies you get sent each day..."
"When I think where they come from," growled Dunbar.
"Steady, old man."
Wrapped in his fur-collared overcoat, Dunbar was impervious to these meteorological threats and, as he extracted the Swiss credit card from his wallet, he seemed to enter into a kind of trance.
I hope to read other books in the Hogarth Shakespeare series.
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