I love picking up a book by an author I haven’t read before and falling in love with it. I read seven or eight books a month, and I always choose one of these books to review on my blog. This month I picked two—the first one I chose was OrphanTrain. My second selection is Edward St. Aubyn’s Dunbar. St. Aubyn is an English author who retells William Shakespeare’s story of King Lear in this small book. Therefore, A Book Review of Edward St. Aubyn’s Dunbar is in order.
Quick Synopsis of Edward St. Aubyn’s Dunbar
Henry Dunbar managed to build a successful global media corporation. He has been placed in a care home in rural England by his two oldest daughters. They have taken over control of his empire, and a big deal is about to go down. Dunbar needs to remain locked away until they pull off the negotiation. The sisters don’t realize Dr.Bob is plotting with the competition. This family physician worked with the sisters to make Dunbar seem mentally unbalanced.
Dunbar isn’t happy with the arrangement. He plots his escape with a fellow patient. The comedian, Peter, suffers from alcoholism. The two manage to escape in a car with Mrs. Harrod, a fellow dementia patient. They don’t get far. Dunbar separates from the other two escapees and takes off for a hike through the wilderness.
Everyone is searching for Dunbar. A third daughter enters the picture. She is estranged from Dunbar because she rejects his desire for her to go into the family business. The sisters all have differing reasons for wanting to find the missing man. Will they be able to find him before he freezes to death? How will the drama end? I don’t want to give anything away, but there is a sad twist ahead.
Highlights found in the story
Two highlights move the story along. The first is when Dunbar separates from Peter and trudges into the wilderness alone. This action enables him to keep from getting caught. It also places him in a situation to contemplate the sins of his past. The second highlight happens when Florance, his youngest daughter, rescues him with a rented helicopter from the wilderness. She is only a couple of steps ahead of her sisters. Dunbar reenters civilization. His head starts to clear. The reader almost believes his life will turn out okay until the plot twist at the end of the book.
The story development in the story
The story development is excellent, but why wouldn’t it be? The novel is a modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s King Lear.
Worldbuilding in the story
St. Aubyn does a marvelous job of constructing the world of a modern-day billionaire. From the private planes to the New York City apartment walking distance from Central Park, the world these characters move in rings true. The idea that 25 million dollars would only be enough money to scrape by shows the decadence of the people who inhabit Dunbar’s world. It doesn’t matter if it is blood money paid for the betrayal of a patient and friend. You get the idea the people in this world would never have enough. They rent helicopters like they are cars. Who does that?
Magic System found in Edward St. Aubyn’s Dunbar
A touch of magic can be found in Dunbar when Simon, the gay defrocked Vicar who stole from his church to pay off gambling debts, appears out of nowhere. At first, the reader might believe he is another wanderer. It becomes clear that this character is either an angel or a figment of Dunbar’s imagination. Simon helps the lost man. He disappears right before the rescue and can’t be found.
Evaluation of Characters in Edward St. Aubyn’s Dunbar
The character development in this book is extraordinary. Abby and Megan make the perfect villains. They are cruel beyond measure, and Megan enjoys inflicting pain. Dunbar takes responsibility for making them that way. Florence, on the other hand, is the picture of the dutiful daughter. She has Dunbar’s best interest at heart. By the end of the story, she convinces him to come home with her and live a happier life. Wilson is the perfect advisor and best friend. He stands by Dunbar even after he is fired and exiled.
The book would have fallen flat if the character of Dunbar hadn’t been fully developed. St. Aubyn creates the perfect word picture of a once successful older man who has descended into a form of insanity. A portion of his craziness is due to medication, but other parts were created by guilt. You can see him as a fragile old man driven into the wilderness with little chance of survival. The reader wants him to experience a fulfilled life by the end of the book. You know that will never happen because of the plot twist in the ending.
Overall opinion of Edward St. Aubyn’s Dunbar
In this reviewer’s opinion, St. Aubyn’s achieved bringing King Lear to the modern reader. The character development and worldbuilding made reading this book interesting and fun. I found the ending very sad. There were a few loose ends I thought needed to be tied up to make the story complete. I would like to see J carry out his revenge or get arrested. One part of the book hinted at the fact that Megan had killed someone in the past. I might have missed the reveal of who that person was in my reading, so I would like for it to be made clear about the identity of the individual. I liked this book because I found Dunbar to be a quick and exciting read, and I would recommend it to my friends.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures, click here.
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