Benedict Cumberbatch and Jennifer Jason Leigh in new Showtime series, Melrose

A few weeks ago I googled “best novels of the decade” and the name Edward St. Aubyn came up. Not knowing the name, I googled around and came across a series of St. Aubyn’s semi-autobiographical books called The Patrick Melrose Novels. Five of these novels, Never MindBad NewsSome HopeMother’s Milk, and At Last were republished in a single volume in 2012. They are based on the author’s own life, growing up in a highly dysfunctional upper-class English family, dealing with the deaths of both parents, alcoholism, heroin addiction and recovery, and marriage and parenthood.

Intrigued, I ordered the books through Amazon U.K. and am reading them now. To say that the stories are about childhood adversity is an understatement.

And then, to my surprise, I learned that Showtime will be airing a five-part television mini-series, called Melrose, based on these books.

Screenwriter David Nicholls says – “I’ve been a huge admirer of Edward St. Aubyn’s novels for years and can’t wait to bring these dark, witty, brilliant books to the screen. Benedict is the perfect Patrick Melrose.”

Blythe Danner will play Nancy, the wealthy Park Avenue sister to Eleanor Melrose (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Here’s the author in his London flat.


Born in London in 1960, St. Aubyn grew up in London and France, where his family had a house. His father, Roger, of half-Scottish descent, was a former soldier and a surgeon. His mother, Lorna, was descended from a wealthy American family based in Cincinnati. St Aubyn has described an unhappy childhood in which he was repeatedly raped by his father from the ages of five to eight with the complicity of his mother.

He attended Westminster School and in 1979 went on to read English at Keble College, Oxford by which time he was a heroin addict. He entered psychotherapy at the age of twenty-five and subsequently became a professional writer.

Here are two very good articles about the author and how writing helped to exorcise his demons –

Toting his father’s ashes around the streets of New York, ‘Patrick realised that it was the first time he had been alone with his father for more than ten minutes without being buggered, hit or insulted.’

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