Book review – Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn

Caidyn's review (1)


1/5 – DNF at 77%

CW: psychopathy/sociopathy, mental illness, forced into mental health facility, and violence

This is the first book I tried of the Hogarth Shakespeare retellings. This one is King Lear, a play that I enjoy and always feel like I need to reread. However, it didn’t live up to the original play.

It’s hard to describe this book because I liked parts of it. I loved reading Dunbar and Florence’s perspectives. Dunbar is King Lear. Florence is his faithful daughter (Cordelia). They had the most interesting perspectives because it combined slight absurdism with the deep musing of mental illness.

Everyone else who had a perspective as largely unimportant. Such as, his other daughters, Megan and Abigail. I can’t remember which is which from the original play, but that doesn’t matter. Their parts are absolutely absurdist and pointless to the story, pulling me out of things to the point where I wanted to skip whenever I realized I would have to read their perspectives. (Or anyone else’s. It’s Dunbar/Lear’s story. Let him tell it for the most part.) It felt unfaithful to the play. Viciousness I get. But copious amounts of sex and being very violent sexually? Pointless. (By violence, I mean that one of the women tried to bite off a guy’s nipple and he had to stitch it back on. Wish I was joking.)

It ruined the story for me.

The plot also largely hinges on you knowing next to nothing about this situation and knowing the progression of the original play. But, I wanted to know this specific situation in the book.

Obviously, it didn’t work for me. I realized I wanted nothing to do with the book and decided to put it down, effectively tabling my interest in the Hogarth series for the time being.

Talk to me!
Have you read any of the Hogarth retellings?

One thought on “Book review – Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn

  1. Pingback: September wrap-up – BW Reviews

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