At his mother's family house in the south of France, Patrick Melrose has the run of a magical garden. Bravely imaginative and self-sufficient, five-year-old Patrick encounters the volatile lives of adults with care. His father, David, rules with considered cruelty, and Eleanor, his mother, has retreated into drink. They are expecting guests for dinner. But this afternoon is unlike the chain of summer days before, and the shocking events that precede the guests' arrival tear Patrick's world in two.
Twenty-two years old and in the grip of a massive addiction, Patrick Melrose is forced to fly to New York to collect his father's ashes. Over the course of a weekend, Patrick's remorseless search for drugs on the avenues of Manhattan, haunted by old acquaintances and insistent inner voices, sends him into a nightmarish spiral. Alone in his room at the Pierce Hotel, he pushes body and mind to the very edge - desperate always to stay one step ahead of his rapidly encroaching past.
Patrick Melrose, cleaned-up and world-weary, is a reluctant guest at a glittering party deep in the English countryside. Amid a crowd of flitting social dragonflies, he finds his search for redemption and capacity for forgiveness challenged by his observation for the cruelties around him. Armed with his biting wit and a newly fashioned openness, can Patrick, who has been to the furthest limits of experience and back again, find release from the savageries of his childhood?
The once illustrious, once wealthy Melroses are in Peril. Caught up in the wreckage of broken promises, child-rearing, adultery and assisted suicide, Patrick finds his wife Mary consumed by motherhood, his mother in thrall to a New Age foundation, and his young son Robert understanding far more than he should. But even as the family struggles against the pull of its ever-present past, a new generation brings new tenderness, and the possibility of change.
As friends, relatives and foes trickle in to pay their final respects to his mother Eleanor, Patrick Melrose finds himself questioning whether a life without parents will be the liberation he has so long imagined. Yet as the memorial service ends and the family gathers one last time, amidst the social niceties and the social horrors, the calms and the rapids, Patrick begins to sense a new current: the chance of some form of safety - at last.
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