A Perfectly Good Man by Patrick Gale

bookshelves: published-2012, paper-read, one-penny-wonder, cornwall, britain-england, contemporary, hardback, tbr-busting-2015, summer-2015, newtome-author, lit-richer, suicide

Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Louise
Read from August 09, 2012 to July 12, 2015
Withdrawn from Liverpool Libraries.

Description: The apparent serenity of parish life in Pendeen and Morvah is disturbed when 20-year-old Lenny Barnes takes his own life in the presence of Father Barnaby Thomas, the charismatic, indefatigable local priest, whose enduring service has made him a popular member of his Cornish community.

Though Lenny′s death is publicly mourned, the tragedy continues to wound those closest to him, and its reverberations seem to threaten a fissure between the Parish and its inhabitants. And yet Lenny′s death is simply Pendeen and Morvah′s most visible misfortune: beneath the surface of the parish newsletter, in the life of Barnaby′s wife Dorothy, in that of his son Jim, in that of their neighbours Modest Carlsson and Nuala Barnes, and in particular in the life of Father Barnaby himself, lies vast, inarticulate sadness.

In what is more an echo-chamber than a sequel, Patrick Gale returns us to the landscape of ′Notes from an Exhibition′, unfurling the complex web of a Cornish community with an empathy that touches clairvoyance and a sure eye for significant mundanity. ′Good People′ is the faithful register of a community′s fortunes, its gentle malignance, and one priest′s struggle to live virtuously.

Opening: He had the heating on because immobility made him cold. The flat was recently built. Its windows and doors were all double-glazed but there was a keen easterly that found the chink in one of the seals around the picture window and set up a wail. The whole flat was keening.

This was a pressie to myself for I jultid 2014 as it was about time to sample this author and Louise was egging me on.

My initial reaction was sort of “yeah… and!?”


this lassoed me round about the Nuala incident and the hook caught, with line and sinker (mixed metaphors are so much fun!). According to the inside flap ‘Notes on an Exhibition’ should have been tackled first – oh well, that’s on the shelves somewhere and I now look forward to it.

You were right Louise!

4* The Perfectly Good Man
TR Notes from an Exhibition
MB Kansas in August
WL A Place Called Winter

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