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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.

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What listeners say about Notes from an Exhibition

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  • 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.

13 people found this 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.

7 people found this helpful

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Third Reading

Where to start? Structure? Pace? Authenticity? Breadth of vision? Using the structure of a catalogue to a retrospective art exhibition the author conducts us through the life of a woman obsessed with visual images and the consequent effect on her family. The narrative is conducted at an even pace allowing each character time for reflective internal dialogue. We get to know them intimately. I find, as on previous readings, that the characters ring true. They are not invented to drive forward the narrative. This is a complex novel handled with authority and written with tenderness.

6 people found this helpful

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Catalogue of an Artist

In this novel the life of an artist is slowly unfurled by listing items of her art or belongings as if they were being catalogued for an exhibition - then each chapter gives a snapshot of what was going on in her life at the time the particular exhibit came into being. It allows for a rich and complex character to be discovered not only through her own voice but through the voices of those who loved her. The story unfolds in a non chronological way which allows the reader to build their own impressions and is so effective that I revised and refreshed my version of her constantly as each chapter unfolded. Then when I was finished I went back and listened a second time to get any nuances I may have missed first time round.
A lovely book and well worth a listen.

4 people found this 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.

9 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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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...

2 people found this helpful

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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.

2 people found this helpful

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Stunning

A beautifully written, enthralling story perfectly performed by Steven Pacey.
One of the best audiobooks yet.

1 person found this helpful

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couldn't stop listening!

what a wonderfully beautiful book. so insightful and honest. the descriptions are fantastic. I loved all of it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • NattyB
  • 17-04-21

A brilliant story perfectly narrated

I love Patrick Gale’s writing, but I think Steven Pacey’s narration is superior to the author’s own. I shall look out for other books narrated by Pacey. This was wonderful

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  • 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 person found this helpful