(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The domestic comedy of A Spot of Bother is presented from four viewpoints. It begins as George Hall, a retired playground equipment manufacturer, decides that an odd spot on his hip is cancerous. In “his” chapters, he grapples with growing terror at the thought that he is about to die. Despite his doctor’s reassurance, he sinks ever deeper into angst, finally attempting to remove the spot himself. A hospital stay and a prescription for Valium give him some respite, but soon his despair reemerges, leaving him nearly incapacitated.

His wife, Jean, is little help. Over the years, their marriage has staled, and she is involved in a love affair with David, one of George’s former coworkers. At the time of George’s crisis, she is upset that their daughter, Katie, is about to marry Ray, a man the family has called “unsuitable.” Her concern for Katie and her interest in David leave her little time for George’s eccentric behavior, and anyway, George is unable to tell her about his fears, especially after he observes her and David making love in their bed.

Katie herself is unsure of her motives for marrying Ray. He seems much better than her first husband, and he is unfailingly kind to her little boy, Jacob. Moreover, he has a nice house and plenty of money. What he lacks is Katie’s intellectual achievement, and she fears that she is about to marry for security, not love.

Her brother Jamie, a successful real estate...

(The entire section is 465 words.)