Regular price: £19.69

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – choose any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • Free, unlimited access to Audio Shows
  • After your trial, Audible is just £7.99/month
OR
In Basket

Summary

Winner of the Booksellers Association Independent Booksellers' Book Prize, 2008.
Shortlisted for the British Book Awards, Richard & Judy's, Best Read of the Year, 2008.

When troubled artist Rachel Kelly dies painting obsessively in her attic studio in Penzance, her saintly husband and adult children are left to unravel a legacy of secrets and emotional damage.

©2007 Patrick Gale (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

Critic reviews

A Richard and Judy Book Club selection.

What members say

Average customer ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    52
  • 4 Stars
    31
  • 3 Stars
    13
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    4

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    46
  • 4 Stars
    16
  • 3 Stars
    6
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    36
  • 4 Stars
    17
  • 3 Stars
    11
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    1
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful

One of the best audiobooks I have listened to. Just loved it and Steven Pacey's reading made it all the more enjoyable. Highly recommended. Please can we have some more of Patrick Gale's books ready by Steven Pacey. Thank you - just wonderful.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful

I don't often give books 5 stars, but this one really deserved it. An intriguing and well-constructed plot, believable and interesting characters, fine, subtle writing without any pretentiousness - what more could you want? It was beautifully-read, too. I was really sorry when it came to an end - but hurrah! The ending was satisfying, and not cliched or predictable.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

A difficult book to like

I bought this book because it is narrated by Stephen Pacey, and because I like 'relationship' books. The idea for the structure is interesting - that each episode is linked to a picture from the posthumous exhibition of Rachel Kelly's work - but in the end it's unsatisfyingly 'clever' and confuses more than it explains, because of the way it jumps around in time. The only real problem with an audio book, especially if you are listening while on the drive home from work, is that you can't flick back to previous chapters to find the thread of a character's story, so just have to press on and hope things will be explained by the end. And that is the main fault with this book. It just stops, and misses out the most important scene in the lives of all the characters. I could see it coming, in tantalising (but self-conscious) snippets, but it would seem the last picture in the exhibition is missing.
Beautifully read by Stephen Pacey but I don't think I'll bother with any more Patrick Gale.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Artistic Licence

As someone who once experienced living with a creative person with bipolar disorder, I think Gale draws the character of the abstract artist Rachel Kelly with honesty. He captures the intensity of her artistic and turbulent life with the clever device of each chapter beginning with the dry, scholarly citation of each piece of her work as in a retrospective exhibition catalogue. Each chapter then expands into a time and an account from each of her children and assorted family members. Gale crafts the saga with a deft touch and keeps ones interest alive with the rhythm of a troubled life lived in full.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Confusing

I really wanted to enjoy and get into this book but I struggled. I found my mind wandering a lot and in the vain hope that it would eventually all come together, it just didnt and then just stopped. I didnt understand it at all and I listened over and over to see if I had missed something. I found myself looking for a missing chapter.

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Good start

Disappointed as like the authors other book both are great until about half way through when they seem to loose all sense of purpose and storyline just drifts on...

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • CHRIS
  • Chertsey, United Kingdom
  • 19-03-17

Cracking good read.

Loved everything about this book. Patrick Gale is such a good story-teller; books that you can lose yourself in from start to finish and always that sad feeling when you come to the end.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Elegant and atsonishing

I must applaud the narrator for his apt putting on of accents.

The book is a brilliant portrait of a quite unusual family and mother. Bipolar artist Rachel Kelly marries Quaker Anthony and moves to Penzanze with him.
Chapter headings form an introduction to each chapter, each giving a descrition of an item from an exhibition about the artist. It took me a while to understand the symbolism and metaphore of an exhibition of one life - what the spectator sees and what they cannot see, what is shown, told and implied. Phases of an artists creation, the juxtapose of biological and artistic creation and much more.
A very clever and accomplished novel that deserved all the praise it got.

On a different level, though. the novel is entertaining as it provides quirky and unusual characters, situations and storylines. Much insight into well developed characters is given.
The characters all have something, I could identify with many of them and found myself involved and invested very much.
The jumps in time and perspectives occasionally bothered me as I was taken out of one life that I enjoyed listening to, and was thrown somewhere else.
But like an exhibition, all the exhibits and pieces can come together in the end and make perfect sense.

Very enjoyable and elegant. The prose is beautiful.
Highly recommended.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • MH
  • Bath
  • 16-02-16

Believable and captivating.

I enjoyed the way all the characters in this novel were complex in a very credible way. I think I need to listen to it again to fully make sense of the various revelations made through shifts in time throughout the book, but I liked this puzzle-like construction. This is a moving story about strong family ties, love despite all, what people do to escape their past and what they do to each other - both good and bad.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Well worth the effort - beautiful.

The story though fairly complicated was captivating. The narrator made the story come alive and reflected the characters perfectly. Great!

Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ben
  • 27-06-15

Magnficent

Another brilliant book from Patrick Gale. All the elements we have come to expect - fantastic characterisation, insightful study of family dynamics, several points of view, twists and turns along the way. The idea of beginning each chapter with a note from an exhibition seems like the kind of thing I wouldn't like, but it was great actually. Well worth a credit.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful