Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn

Ever since I read Margaret Atwood's retelling of Shakespeare's Tempest in Hag-Seed, I've been eagerly reading the other books in Hogarth Publishing's ambitious Shakespeare project. The publishing house has tasked well-known authors with writing re-imaginings of some of the thespian's most famous works. While this has been an interesting exercise, the results have been decidedly mixed. Only Atwood has managed to craft a story that truly stands on its own feet. Still, the exercise itself has been enough to keep me reading, and I was happy to receive a copy of the latest novel in the series Dunbar from the publisher.

Dunbar sees author Edward St. Aubyn have his hand at King Lear. Canadian media mogul Henry Dunbar, the King Lear of this iteration, finds himself in a retirement home/sanitarium. His two older daughters conspire against him, taking control of his company and leaving him to rot in the care home. Dunbar may be old, but he's not going to give up his company without a fight. With the assistance of a depressed former thespian Peter, Dunbar escapes his room and begins a quest to take back control from his conniving daughters.

This is the third book in Hogarth's collection that I've read. I find my reaction to Dunbar to be pretty similar to my reaction of Tracy Chevalier's New Boy. While I appreciate many of the moments in the novel, I don't think it really lives up to the standards of the play it is reimagining. To his credit, St. Aubyn gives the novel a kind of political thriller feel with Dunbar working agains forces conspiring against him and his company. Still, the story never seems to exist beyond the point of retelling Shakespeare's narrative. Dunbar can be thrilling and has some surprisingly witty characters, but I'm starting to question the artistic merit of this exercise. Jo Nesbo throws in his take on Macbeth next year, so I'm not ruling out reading more from this collection.

For more information, visit the author's website, Amazon, and Goodreads.
I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

(2017, 45)

This entry was posted on Saturday, November 4, 2017 and is filed under ,,,,,,,. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response.

3 Responses to “Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn”

  1. I haven't read many from the Hogarth collections, but I did read the retelling called Shylock is my name and found it to be a decent read. King Lear is one of the Shakespeares I have read and while this does sound like a fairly good retelling, and the political thriller aspect sounds intriguing enough, it doesn't sound like it went much further than that...

    1. It was very surface level. I'd definitely recommend Atwood's Hag-Seed though!

  2. Haven't read this, but I read Joe Nesbo's Macbeth which I enjoyed very much and am looking forward to read more "retellings" of Shakespeare.


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