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Mother's Boy

Patrick Gale



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01 March 2022

ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Gale is one of those authors whose new books I look forward to with keen anticipation - and this one is perhaps his best yet! Set in the early 20th century, it is the story of an intensely loving relationship between a widow and her son. Laura lost her husband to the after-effects of war, so her only child Charlie fills the emotional void and becomes the centre of her world. Gradually she realises he is not like other lads in their rough working class neighbourhood, and that he has a talent for music that she tries to foster. But as he grows, she is blind to his increasing need for his own space, and smothers him somewhat. Charlie both loves and resents her, and begins to realise that he is pulled in a dangerous direction - and the new world war introduces him both to great passion and great pain... Based on the early years (loosely) of the Cornish poet Charles Causley, this is written with great delicacy and plain beauty, and is a thoroughly engaging portrait of a man and a time long gone.   Lindy

'One of the joys of Gale's writing is how even the smallest of characters can appear fully formed, due to a charming wickedness alongside deeper observations' Irish Times Laura, an impoverished Cornish girl, meets her husband when they are both in service in Teignmouth in 1916. They have a baby, Charles, but Laura's husband returns home from the trenches a damaged man, already ill with the tuberculosis that will soon leave her a widow. In a small, class-obsessed town she raises her boy alone, working as a laundress, and gradually becomes aware that he is some kind of genius.

As an intensely private young man, Charles signs up for the navy with the new rank of coder. His escape from the tight, gossipy confines of Launceston to the colour and violence of war sees him blossom as he experiences not only the possibility of death, but the constant danger of a love that is as clandestine as his work.

MOTHER'S BOY is the story of a man who is among, yet apart from his fellows, in thrall to, yet at a distance from his own mother; a man being shaped for a long, remarkable and revered life spent hiding in plain sight. But it is equally the story of the dauntless mother who will continue to shield him long after the dangers of war are past.

'A writer with heart, soul, and a dark and naughty wit, one whose company you relish and trust' Observer
Imprint:   Headline
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 232mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 34mm
Weight:   500g
ISBN:   9781472257437
ISBN 10:   147225743X
Pages:   416
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

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, the Costa-shortlisted A Place Called Winter and Take Nothing With You. 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.

Reviews for Mother's Boy

'A tender, evocative retelling of the life of the poet Charles Causley . . . Patrick Gale's descriptions of the power of ordinary things in two very different lives make Mother's Boy a moving biographical tribute' * Times Literary Supplement * The complex, near-incestuous bond between mother and son is drawn with sharp-eyed affection, as is the small-town Cornish setting. It stands with the best queer literary fiction of a historical bent, illuminated as it is by Gale's devilish wit and talent for both social observation and intricacies of character * Sydney Morning Herald * A gorgeous coming-of-age story - this tender novel will touch hearts * Good Housekeeping * 'Gentle . . . evocative' * Daily Mail * A touching, utterly convincing portrait of the nascent artist' * Mail on Sunday * The magic happens though when Gale takes his inspiration from lines of poetry or fragments of Charles' diary and gives him, and Laura, a rich and poignant life. A nicely woven, gentle tale of an ordinary life in extraordinary times, a tale of a boy born into hardship with no sense of self-pity, raised by his mother to be who he shall be. It's quite lovely * New Zealand Herald * I loved it. It's an incredibly evocative, enjoyable read...I didn't want it to stop. I wanted to stay in the world and carry on. * Cathy Rentzenbrink * Mother's Boy is further proof that Patrick Gale is that rare kind of storyteller - utterly engaging, compelling and unputdownable * Sarah Winman * A lovely, generous, absorbing novel. Charles is made both 'of' and belonging to his place and world, while also not fitting into it. The war sections are so very good, so terrible and ugly and gritty. I absolutely believed all of it * Tessa Hadley * You know sometimes, from the very first page of a book, you feel so at home and so involved with the story, it's as if you've walked alongside the characters all your life? Mother's Boy is one of those books. A sign of an incredible storyteller * Joanna Cannon * Mother's Boy beautifully celebrates the underdog. It is a celebration of love in hidden places, and love in ordinary places, and the courage required to be true to the person you are, when there is no road map to guide you. A sublime piece of storytelling' * Rachel Joyce * A wonderfully tender account of a poet's coming of age against the brutal backdrop of World War 11. Scene after scene is delivered with filmic intensity. Patrick Gale is a master of atmosphere, detail and the deep currents of latent passion * Philip Marsden * Patrick Gale always writes so well of his men and of the women near them. In Mother's Boy his women shine as brightly as the men, his characters age and grow by themselves, alive in their actions, hopes and losses. * Stella Duffy * Patrick Gale's writing has an unmatched ability to take you by the hand and just casually, quietly, lead you in, and in, and in. It all seems so simple, and then you're in tears * Louisa Young * Patrick Gale's Mother's Boy is a tour-de-force; the book is really a love-letter, to motherhood, and to the landscapes and townscapes of Gale's adopted home county of Cornwall. Most of all, it is a heartfelt tribute from one fine writer to another; a patient and subtle reflection on the tricky art of noticing - and enduring - what really matters in life * Neil Bartlett * Gale has a rare talent for evoking human relationships. Here he exploits his skill fully, richly examining the dynamics between mother and son, and between men and men allowed in extraordinary times to explore what they really mean to one and other * Petroc Trelawny * I think Charles Causley would be incredibly happy - and stunned - if he were able to read your book. What you've done is extraordinary; you've somehow created a world that only Causley could have been born into and grown up in. His poetry calls up emotion; there's always much more than at first appears - and your story suggests, in the most sensitive and subtle way * Vivian French * Storytelling like this, from structure to sentence to imagery to sheer rolling belief in the world and its people - these qualities are a rare treat. Want to learn how to write a novel? Read this or any other by Patrick Gale * Eleanor Anstruther * 'A gentle read' * Irish Times * 'A beautifully nuanced story' * Woman & Home * 'A powerful novel. The all-important relationship between mother and son is evoked with skill and vivacity' * Literary Review * 'He makes the ordinary compelling, the commonplace universal' * Town & Country Magazine * 'Richly engaging . . . Brilliantly evokes Causley's native county in the first part of the 20th century . . .This deeply felt, elegantly written novel will be relished by admirers of both the author and his subject. ' * Spectator * 'A fascinating look at the formative years and experiences of a complicated man, and the woman who loved him unconditionally' * Red * 'Deeply moving . . . Heart-warming and credible' * Tablet *

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