Books by Patrick Gale

Released: Dec. 28, 2015

"A bit plodding at times and the sexual angle feels almost old-hat, but Gale creates in Harry a complicated, ultimately sympathetic hero."
British novelist Gale (A Perfectly Good Man, 2012, etc.) creates a novel about his maternal great-grandfather, who left England at the start of the 20th century to farm in Canada.Read full book review >
ROUGH MUSIC by Patrick Gale
Released: May 1, 2001

"If Oprah takes British writers, this is a shoo-in."
In his richly rewarding ninth novel, British author Gale (Tree Surgery for Beginners, 1994, etc.) leaves behind the comedy on which he's built a reputation to explore how secrets, betrayals, and missed connections come close to tearing a family apart. Read full book review >
SECRET LIVES by Patrick Gale
Released: July 1, 1994

Three novellas by three Brits reminding us that the most ordinary-seeming people may lead lives of private drama. Bovine Brenda, the middle-aged spinster in Wakefield's (Lot's Wife, not reviewed) ``The Other Way,'' leaves her linoleum kitchen for a Tunisian holiday after winning the grand prize in a contest she had entered with the hope of winning the consolation appliance. Dowdy-by-day book editor Mary is a silk-stockinged mistress whose freedom and established habits are disrupted by her magnate lover's marriage proposal in ``Caesar's Wife'' by Gale (Kansas in August, 1988, etc.). Both ladies, for whom routine is a comfortable shoe, react dramatically to their new circumstances. Brenda flees her garish tour group for the quiet companionship of an aging homosexual gentleman and, in an odd maelstrom between otherwise comedic and contemplative pages, has a shocking epiphany. Mary panics and, with the help of her lover's gay, wheelchair-bound son, Josh (who is her close friend), cooks up a wacky scheme so she can have her cake and eat it too. The theme of secrecy applies to gays (featured with varying prominence in each story) as well as to misunderstood women. Homosexuality is most directly dealt with in the title story by King (Punishments, 1990, etc.), in which Brian, a closeted barrister, dies of AIDS, fearing to the end rejection from friends, family, and his beleaguered Japanese lover, Osamu. All three novellas are humorous and moving, but Gale's glows with a subtle polish the others lack. He's overcome the heavy-handed polemicism of his longer fiction and focused on telling the story, a fluid and wry tale. ``People aren't what you think they are,'' remarks Brenda's narrow sister. Nor are books, as Secret Lives proves: At arm's length, it's hodgepodge; up close, intricate patterns emerge. Read full book review >
FACING THE TANK by Patrick Gale
Released: April 5, 1989

Another of Englishman Gale's densely populated comic novels, this one set in a cathedral town. Professor Evan Kirby—an amiable, newly divorced, middle-aged American, author of a successful book about Hell—is in England researching a companion work on Paradise; this takes him to Barrowcester, a comfortable, quintessentially English town whose natives kill you with kindness. The large cast includes Evan's Spanish landlady, Mercy Merluza, a partial amnesiac; her clever daughter Madeleine, who becomes the talk of the tabloids after being made pregnant by a Cardinal; Dawn Harper, a Satanist searching for her long-lost daughter; the socialist Bishop and his mother, a medium who reveals Mercy's incestuous past; and Clive and Lydia Hart, trendy liberals whose principles are tested when their supposedly gay son shows up with his gorgeous black bride-to-be. They make for a fine cluster of cameos, but not much else; Gale serves up bizarre episodes instead of plot. Evan lends Dawn a book of Satanic invocations, and she succeeds in summoning Sasha, now a feral seven-year-old who, before she succumbs to rat poison, possesses the Bishop's mother and destroys all Evan's research. The Bishop has a brief encounter with Patron Saint Boniface, after tampering with his remains in the cathedral. These supernatural happenings are blended with various social embarrassments; the wedding of the Harts' son, confusion over who is and who isn't gay. Evan and Madeleine, who in a better structured novel might have emerged as appealing protagonists, somehow discover their mutual attraction, and wind up in a Welsh seaside cottage. Gale writes like the poor man's Iris Murdoch: he has her subversive sense of mischief, though none of her deep feeling for character, being content to stay on the surface, teasing. Still, at age 26, with four novels published, he has time and energy to spare, and is worth watching. Read full book review >