Genre: Fiction about dysfunctional families. ⭐️Stars from Goodreads: 3.76. ArsStars from me: 3.
Breastmilk, the fourth book on Patrick Melrose, took me the longest to read and was the first book in the series that actually made me question my decision to read a series at all. You hang on to the characters and keep paddling through the books even after you stop enjoying them. At least that’s what happened to my and Patrick Melrose’s books.
What is the book about?
The fourth book focuses on some important situations in Patrick’s life, mostly through the eyes of new and much younger characters. As in all three previous books, only a few events are described that take place over a relatively short period of time. Hence, any development of the story essentially revolves around the characters’ thoughts and feelings rather than their actions.
What I liked about the book
Writing is thought provoking and beautiful again,
“We think a child’s purpose is to grow up because they grow up. But it should play, have fun, be a child. If we only look at the end of the process, the meaning of life is death. ‘
People were dying of emotions all the time after going through the formality of turning them into bullets, bottles, and tumors.
It was easy to see what was sick, but it was so difficult to know what it meant to be healthy.
“A man can smile and smile and be a bad guy.”
with his classic dark humor,
In the end, it was even more difficult to misbehave than to behave well. That was the problem of not being a psychopath.
He definitely had a problem with tamazepam, which was that it wasn’t severe enough.
and with his perfectly captured human nature.
… Selfishness necessary from someone who had to get a self back in order to sacrifice it again.
Her profound inability to listen to anyone else was unfortunately accompanied by a hysterical concern about what others thought of her.
Eleanor more or less believed everything as long as it wasn’t true.
… She would devote her life to helping others as long as they were not related to her.
When his grandmother saw the arrival of her family, she organized her face into a smile, but her eyes remained detached from the process, frozen with confusion and pain.
Mary was such a devoted mother because she knew what it felt like not to have one. Patrick knew how it felt too, and as a former beneficiary of Mary’s maternal overdrive, he sometimes had to remind himself that he was no longer a child to argue that there were real kids in the house who weren’t yet trained in horror ;; he had to have a good time sometimes. […] Being around children only brought him closer to his own childliness.
This book takes children seriously. They’re not just accessories for adult life or levers for property development. Your thoughts and feelings are just as important as those of the adult characters.
That was the problem with adults: They always wanted to be the center of attention, with their battered food rams, sleep routines, and obsession with letting you learn what they knew and forgetting what they had forgotten.
Whenever he was hurt, he would call me “you” again, despite discovering the correct use of the first person as the singular six months ago. Until then, he had referred to himself as “you” for the perfectly logical reasons everyone else did. He also referred to others as “I” for the perfectly logical reason that they were referring to themselves.
Though it seemed quite impossible, the story got some resolutions that were really satisfying.
What I didn’t like about the book
As you may have guessed, the lack of measures in this book is close to torture. It gets so boring that even perfect writing and close-ups of disturbed souls don’t make up for it. The characters are like beetles frozen in amber. They are perfect and realistic, and yet you can’t get rid of the feeling that they are supposed to do something more in life.
Would I recommend this book?
Unfortunately I wouldn’t, which is a shame. This is a remarkable piece of real literature with a unique, deep script, but I personally don’t know of any readers who would agree with such quietness of the plot.
Here are the reviews of the previous novels in the series: Never Mind, Patrick Melrose Novel # 1, Bad News, Patrick Melrose Novel # 2, Some Hope, Patrick Melrose # 3.