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Summary

The longer the marriage, the harder truth becomes....

Meet the Hanrahan family, gathering for a momentous weekend as famous artist and notorious egoist Ray Hanrahan prepares for a new exhibition of his art - the first in many decades - and one he is sure will burnish his reputation for good.

His three children will be there: beautiful Leah, always her father’s biggest champion; sensitive Patrick, who has finally decided to strike out on his own; and insecure Jess, the youngest, who has her own momentous decision to make....

And what of Lucia, Ray’s steadfast and selfless wife? She is an artist, too, but has always had to put her roles as wife and mother first. What will happen if she decides to change? For Lucia is hiding secrets of her own, and as the weekend unfolds and the exhibition approaches, she must finally make a choice.

The Exhibitionist is the extraordinary fifth novel from Charlotte Mendelson, a dazzling exploration of art, sacrifice, toxic family politics, queer desire and personal freedom. 

©2022 Macmillan Publishers International Limited (P)2022 Macmillan Publishers International Ltd

Critic reviews

"It takes the most ferocious intelligence, skill, and a deep reservoir of sadness to write a novel as funny as this. I adored it." (Meg Mason)

"A devastating treat of a novel: funny, furious, dark and delicious." (Sarah Waters)

"Delicious, heartbreaking.... Fabulously written and utterly compelling." (Marian Keyes)

What listeners say about The Exhibitionist

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  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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Grotesque, unbelievable main characters

Lucia is a a man's fantasy of a doormat, as a very mature woman, ok old, I've never met a woman in my life who didn't grow out of her teenage or twenties infatuation with a selfish bully of a man. I returned this, I found it overwhelmingly irritating, couldn't stand any of the characters after about an hour.

1 person found this helpful

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I couldn’t beat the characters

I returned this book after a few chapters because I couldn’t bear to listen to any more about the overbearing husband and subservient wife.

1 person found this helpful

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Waste of a credit - I gave up! In spite of Juliet

What a disappointment - this was embarrassingly bad. I adore the narrator but even her reading the telephone book would have been more enjoyable! Never left such a bad review and the premise of the story looked so interesting. It was just so irritatingly bitty, sorry

1 person found this helpful

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Couldn’t even finish… save your money

Not even Juliet Stevenson could save it. I made it to 45 minutes left and just couldn’t manage to finish.

1 person found this helpful

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So depressing

I found this a really hard book to listen to as just I didn’t like or really understand the motivation of the characters. The way that Lucia ignored and did not defend her children was so weak and quite horrible. Ray was just an ego centric, self centred bully… and they let him be this way. The only character I liked was Aunt Gillian, she felt real. Leah was a screeching mess. Did not enjoy it as much as I hoped I would after reading the reviews

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This is a Tricky One

For such a funny book it had such a depressing plot. None of the characters bar one are particularly likeable and he doesn't feature very much at all. The main character is a complete monster.

Like I say it was very funny in a dru sort of way and it did become gripping towards the end.

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Great read, easy to listen to and couldn't stop

It was a good read, very descriptive and realistic of how family dynamics work in a dysfunctional family. Some bits reminded me of my own family even. But the ending was quite abrupt and left at a bit of a cliff hanger.

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A difficult but excellent read

I read a review of The Exhibitionist in the Saturday Times and saw that it was read by Juliet Stevenson, whose voice I love. I think I might have lost patience with the awful central character whose controlling and narcissistic behaviour distorts and even destroys the lives of all his family in different ways, had it not been for the wonderful narration. It is one of the most memorable books I've listened to.

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Bloody great.

Very funny, very ouch family relations. Put a bully in the centre and the dreadful emotional standoffs and habitual reactions we can all be party to in the gorgeous swamp of kith and kin get ready to explode.