Nov 10, 2017

Book Review: DUNBAR by Edward St. Aubyn

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. 

Book beginning:
"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."

Page 56:

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.
Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader


  1. That is a great, funny and very intriguing first line!!

    Here's mine: Enjoy your weekend, may your books be with you!

  2. Fun! The British Isles Friday folks would like this, too --

  3. I liked this very much including the wicked sisters!

  4. I've loved the various Hogarth retellings...and this one looks very tempting. I am approaching the age where my children might try to lock me away...LOL.

    Thanks for sharing, and here's mine: “THE CRUELEST MONTH”

  5. Love your snippets. Hope it doesn't stick in my head all
    sherry @ fundinmental Friday Memes

  6. I'm curious for more! Happy weekend!

  7. Dunbar sounds like a touching story! Thank you for sharing some of the book. I'm going to keep it in mind.

  8. Now this sounds like fun! I'm curious how it all plays out.

    My Friday 56 from The Memory Trees


I love getting comments and your thoughts...

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