From the bestselling author of A PLACE CALLED WINTER comes a compassionate, compelling new novel of boyhood, coming of age, and the confusions of desire and reality.
'It's delicious, it's dear, it's heart-breaking and very funny' Rachel Joyce
'An incredibly beautiful story told with compassion. Nothing is wasted. Each sentence is beautifully crafted' Joanna Cannon
1970s Weston-Super-Mare and ten-year-old oddball Eustace, an only child, has life transformed by his mother's quixotic decision to sign him up for cello lessons. Music-making brings release for a boy who is discovering he is an emotional volcano. He laps up lessons from his young teacher, not noticing how her brand of glamour is casting a damaging spell over his frustrated and controlling mother.
When he is enrolled in holiday courses in the Scottish borders, lessons in love, rejection and humility are added to daily practice.
Drawing in part on his own boyhood, Patrick Gale's new novel explores a collision between childish hero worship and extremely messy adult love lives.
Patrick Gale was born on the Isle of Wight. He spent his infancy at Wandsworth Prison, which his father governed, then grew up in Winchester before going to Oxford University. He now lives on a farm near Land's End. One of this country's best-loved novelists, his most recent works are A Perfectly Good Man, the Richard and Judy bestseller Notes From An Exhibition, and the Costa-shortlisted A Place Called Winter. His original BBC television drama, Man In An Orange Shirt, was shown to great acclaim in 2017 as part of the BBC's Queer Britannia series, leading viewers around the world to discover his novels.
Absolutely one of his complete best. So many funny and tender and terrific scenes. He hovers between social comedy and apocalyptic tragedy without the move appearing artificial or contrived. Just a wonderful, wonderful read — Stephen Fry
Safe in the arms of Patrick Gale's BEAUTIFUL writing again - I could weep with joy. — Joanna Cannon
A wonderful, intelligent and enriching novel. Gale draws his protagonist with compassion and empathy, and the book is populated by some terrific supporting characters, such as former star cellist Naomi, who had to give up performing because of stage fright and becomes a surrogate sibling in Eustace's life. Ultimately, it is a forceful reminder of the emotional power of music. As Eustace is told by his teacher at summer school: "Music knits. It heals. It is balm to the soul." The same could be said for this book — i Newspaper
Sexy, joyous, funny and tender. I relished it — Sarah Winman
Joyous and full of light. I only meant to read a chapter and I greedily gobbled down the whole lot in one go. He is a beautiful and empathetic writer. — Cathy Rentzenbrink
A compelling story of how a passion for music can be the gateway to self-discovery, and lead a young teenager to find his tribe. The storytelling is so vivid, you can actually hear the music, and the intense fusion of artistic and erotic exploration will stir up memories for quite a few readers. — Jonathan Dove, composer
A fascinating story, gripping, moving and exquisitely written, this is a wonderful gift of a book from one of the best writers working today. — SJ Watson
Very well done indeed - brilliantly sustained — Rachel Johnson
A tender and touching coming of age story from the always eminently readable Patrick Gale — Red Magazine
Patrick Gale has created such a wonderful character, I was bereft to leave him — Good Housekeeping
A compassionate and funny coming-of-age and coming-out novel. If you haven't read Gale before, start now — Woman & Home
A beautiful novel about longing, growth, music and family — Queen & Country Magazine
Gale is an enticing and quietly subversive storyteller . . . its depictions of strangeness and toxicity of under-the-surface conventions of middle-class life take it into darker and more surprising territory. In elegant, restrained prose, Gale writes with an eye on impermanence, showing how loss can be tinged with hope, and new beginnings with the threat of mortality. . . he taps into a range of experiences and emotions that are both specific and beautifully universal — Irish Independent
Gale is excellent on the hot, messy nature of self-discovery and sexual awakening — Daily Mail
Beguiling, vivid, wise and moving — Attitude Magazine (Book of the Month)
Beautifully told with understated glee and humanity, this novel raises smiles and shocked tears — Belfast Telegraph
This coming-of-age story is gorgeously written, full of warmth and humour — Sunday Mirror