January Book Club Read. Not the kind of book I'd normally read and I did struggle through a large part of it. My main problem with it was that I didn't particularly care about any of the characters. It was only towards the end that I quite liked Frank, the man was like an iceberg, a lot happening underneath.
Anyhoo - this is the story of Charles Hythloday, mid 20's living in a stately home in Ireland. Father having died a couple of years earlier (a maker of makeup etc), Mother in "The Cedars" recovering from life. Charles lives in a virtually permanent alcoholic haze, younger sister Bel a failed actress with a string of inappropiate boyfriends. They almost loose the family home (as father had money stashed in places only his accountant could find) and as a result Charles tries to fake his death for the insurance money - but in the process finds the housekeepers bosnian family hiding in the grounds. Charles is kicked out of the family home by his Mother (a moment of tough love - saying he needs to find a job and experience real life) and she ends up turning the house into a theatre and home for underpriviledged actors, Bel being the star of the plays.
Charles moves in with Frank (Bel's latest unsuitable boyfriend). Charles really does live in a world of his own, he has a fascination with Gene Tierney and firmly believes that he shouldn't have to work. At times he really makes you cringe with his "the world owes me a living" attitude. But it was Frank that really grew on me - yes his language was awful (the use of the C word was used in abundance with him), but he really cared about Bel and was devestated when she tossed him aside. His rescue of Droyd was also very touching and his blackout when he tried to strangle Harry made me smile.
Would I read it again - no and I'm still confused as to whether or not Bel was really alive at the end. But the end really mystified me - Charles walking hand in hand with Patsy - after what she did to him and Hoyland (a Duel, really - while she was giving a blowjob to one of their friends?). Parts of it were somewhat surreal.