If the reader were to give a voice to Haddon's protagonist, it would sound just like Keating's. George is an introverted, mild-mannered 61-year-old newly retired Brit who wants to ignore the emotional undertow of his conventional, middle-class family. Without trying to act out the characters, Keating clearly delineates each: George's wife (who is having an affair), his daughter (who is about to embark on another disastrous marriage), her fiance (whose cockney accent highlights class antagonisms) and his son (who fears bringing his male lover to the wedding). To avoid the family fracas, George focuses on his eczema-the ""spot of bother"" of the title-convinced that it is cancer and that he will die soon. Keating tries to establish a lighthearted tone, but Haddon's descriptions of the characters' misery, especially George's rapid descent into madness, are too graphic to be comical. Tone aside, Haddon writes well and Keating reads well, so many listeners will enjoy this contemporary British family portrait in which everyone will live relatively happily ever after-if only they can learn to communicate with one another. Simultaneous release with the Doubleday hardcover (Reviews, July 17).
Reviewed on: 09/04/2006 Release date: 09/01/2006 Genre: Fiction