This morning I had a benign splotch of keratosis burned off my back. (I know, too much information). I only bring this up as it was a similar such splotch that became George Hall’s undoing in Mark Haddon’s A Spot of Bother.
George’s spot ends up only being a bit of eczema yet before (and even after) he receives that diagnosis, George descends a spiral of panic, depression and hopelessness. It doesn’t help that his wife is having an affair with his best friend, his daughter is marrying a man he doesn’t care for and he’s still having trouble accepting his son’s homosexuality.
A Spot of Bother is set in modern suburban England, which is not too unlike its American counterpart in the realm of self-absorption and dysfunction. However, the British sense of propriety and their need to portray emotional stability amid madness, layers a great air of comedy to this story. The British obsession with class is also seen in George’s hesitancy with his prospective son-in-law, a competent respectable carpenter unfortunately deemed a class beneath by his fiancée’s family.
I read A Spot of Bother last summer while we were staying with my in-laws in the British Midlands. We were staying in a small village outside Solihull, a quaint and quiet setting, perfect for taking in this story.