AT LAST is the fifth and final volume in St. Aubyn's series of books about Patrick Melrose (all of which I have read in the last month). Patrick's abusive childhood is based, at least in part, on St. Aubyn's own upbringing, which is chilling. "The slashing intelligence of Patrick's analysis of himself and his upper-crust world, combined with the epigrammatic wit of the dialogue, gave what might have been a narrow confessional exercise the reach and resonance of tragedy," wrote James Lasdun in his Guardian review, acclaiming the final act in a "terrifying, spectacularly entertaining saga". At his mother's funeral, Patrick comes up against the aging monsters of his childhood for one last time, thinking back to maternal betrayals and forward to the redemptive possibilities of his own sons' future. ***SPOILER ALERT HERE *** I almost agree with Lasdun, and would have given this book the same five stars I unreservedly gave the rest of the series, had it not been for an oddly unsatisfying last few pages. I found the leap into the sort of 'even our abusers were abused children once' pop psychology so strange, given the tone and perspective of the rest of the work that I read it twice to make sure I wasn't missing something. I rather hope I was missing something. Although I earnestly wish a better future for this damaged man, I couldn't help but feel this rending of the veil a little too abrupt, as though the author needed to tie up the ends quickly. I needed more subtly, some symbolic hint at future grace perhaps, but this felt too heavy handed and too simple. Having said that (and I regret my feelings on the matter), I HIGHLY recommend the entire series. I've never read anything which manages to marry scathing wit with pathos quite so well. And I may be entirely wrong about the ending.