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Beautifully written and deeply compassionate, Rough Music is a novel of one family at two defining points in time. Seamlessly alternating between the present day and a summer thirty years past, its twin stories unfold at a cottage along the eastern coast of England. Will Pagett receives an unexpected gift on his fortieth birthday, two weeks at a perfect beach house in Cornw Beautifully written and deeply compassionate, Rough Music is a novel of one family at two defining points in time. Seamlessly alternating between the present day and a summer thirty years past, its twin stories unfold at a cottage along the eastern coast of England. Will Pagett receives an unexpected gift on his fortieth birthday, two weeks at a perfect beach house in Cornwall. Seeking some distance from the married man with whom he's having an affair, he invites his aging mother and father to share his holiday, knowing the sun and sea will be a welcome change for. But the cottage and the stretch of sand before it seem somehow familiar and memories of a summer long ago begin to surface. Thirty-two years earlier. A young married couple and their eight year-old son begin two idyllic weeks at a beach house in Cornwall. But the sudden arrival of unknown American relatives has devastating consequences, turning what was to be a moment of reconciliation into an act of betrayal that will cast a lengthy shadow. As Patrick Gale masterfully unspools these parallel stories, we see their subtle and surprising reflections in each other and discover how the forgotten dramas of childhood are reenacted throughout our lives. Deftly navigating the terrain between humor and tragedy, Patrick Gale has written an unforgettable novel about the lies that adults tell and the small acts of treason that children can commit. Rough Music gracefully illuminates the merciful tricks of memory and the courage with which we continue to assert our belief in love and happiness. From the Hardcover edition.


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Beautifully written and deeply compassionate, Rough Music is a novel of one family at two defining points in time. Seamlessly alternating between the present day and a summer thirty years past, its twin stories unfold at a cottage along the eastern coast of England. Will Pagett receives an unexpected gift on his fortieth birthday, two weeks at a perfect beach house in Cornw Beautifully written and deeply compassionate, Rough Music is a novel of one family at two defining points in time. Seamlessly alternating between the present day and a summer thirty years past, its twin stories unfold at a cottage along the eastern coast of England. Will Pagett receives an unexpected gift on his fortieth birthday, two weeks at a perfect beach house in Cornwall. Seeking some distance from the married man with whom he's having an affair, he invites his aging mother and father to share his holiday, knowing the sun and sea will be a welcome change for. But the cottage and the stretch of sand before it seem somehow familiar and memories of a summer long ago begin to surface. Thirty-two years earlier. A young married couple and their eight year-old son begin two idyllic weeks at a beach house in Cornwall. But the sudden arrival of unknown American relatives has devastating consequences, turning what was to be a moment of reconciliation into an act of betrayal that will cast a lengthy shadow. As Patrick Gale masterfully unspools these parallel stories, we see their subtle and surprising reflections in each other and discover how the forgotten dramas of childhood are reenacted throughout our lives. Deftly navigating the terrain between humor and tragedy, Patrick Gale has written an unforgettable novel about the lies that adults tell and the small acts of treason that children can commit. Rough Music gracefully illuminates the merciful tricks of memory and the courage with which we continue to assert our belief in love and happiness. From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for Rough Music

  1. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    4.5, rounded up. I initially had some trouble getting into this book, which I think was more due to personal crisis factors than any fault of the book itself, but once I hit the halfway mark, I couldn't put it down and read it literally non-stop till I finished. Even in this early book, Gale shows a mastery of prose style, complex plotting and deft characterization. The story alternates between two time periods set 32 years apart, and often in these types of novels (for example, in the recent - a 4.5, rounded up. I initially had some trouble getting into this book, which I think was more due to personal crisis factors than any fault of the book itself, but once I hit the halfway mark, I couldn't put it down and read it literally non-stop till I finished. Even in this early book, Gale shows a mastery of prose style, complex plotting and deft characterization. The story alternates between two time periods set 32 years apart, and often in these types of novels (for example, in the recent - and excellent - 'The Great Believers'), one storyline will dominate and be of more interest than the other. Here though, both storylines are intriguing and one is never unclear where one is in the novel (it helps - and is very clever, that the protagonist is called by different names in each time frame). Although some of the revelations are not exactly bombshells, and have been foreshadowed long before they occur, everything fits beautifully. Gale has recently proved his skill as a screenwriter with the brilliant 'Man in the Orange Shirt', and this too would make an excellent film (which some would say is faint praise, but I mean it as a compliment.)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mrsgaskell

    This was a thoroughly engrossing novel about relationships in all their variations and I had a hard time putting it down. The novel concerns one family but is told at two points in time, the present and thirty-two years previously. John and Frances Pagett and their 8-year-old son Julian spent a family holiday at a beach house in Cornwall decades earlier and there is an element of mystery to the novel since the reader soon becomes aware that "something" happened then that has affected their lives This was a thoroughly engrossing novel about relationships in all their variations and I had a hard time putting it down. The novel concerns one family but is told at two points in time, the present and thirty-two years previously. John and Frances Pagett and their 8-year-old son Julian spent a family holiday at a beach house in Cornwall decades earlier and there is an element of mystery to the novel since the reader soon becomes aware that "something" happened then that has affected their lives. Years later, for his fortieth birthday, Will Pagett is given a two week stay at what turns out to be the same cottage by his sister and brother-in-law. He invites his parents along, his mother now suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's. This is a fascinating look at complex relationships, parent/child, siblings, couples and lovers - heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual. Highly recommended.

  3. 5 out of 5

    LindyLouMac

    Patrick Gale is a prolific author but I was only introduced to his writing two years ago by my sister when she recommended Notes from An Exhibition(2007) and lent me a copy of The Whole Day Through(2009), the latter which I never reviewed for some reason, although I do remember liking it. Instantly hooked his entire back catalogue has now been added to my Wishlist. The only other title I have read so far is Friendly Fire (2005). I find that Patrick Gale is a particularly sensitive writer for a m Patrick Gale is a prolific author but I was only introduced to his writing two years ago by my sister when she recommended Notes from An Exhibition(2007) and lent me a copy of The Whole Day Through(2009), the latter which I never reviewed for some reason, although I do remember liking it. Instantly hooked his entire back catalogue has now been added to my Wishlist. The only other title I have read so far is Friendly Fire (2005). I find that Patrick Gale is a particularly sensitive writer for a man but I think this may stem from the fact that he is gay. I hope this is the politically correct term to use, but I am not sure. However he is quite open about the fact and in the question and answer section at the end of this novel talks about his husband who is a farmer. The fact he obviously draws on personal experiences in life and location, they live on a farm in Cornwall are I am sure part of his success as a novelist. I am really looking forward to locating more of his books to read. Straight away I was drawn into this thought provoking and touching novel, set in alternate chapters of past and present. Patrick Gale has a love of the west of England and the sea and his evocative writing is very absorbing bringing the setting and the characters to life for me whilst I am reading. Julian, who changes his name to Will as an adult because of a nickname he was given at school is the main character and most of the story is built around a family holiday that did not go quite as planned when he was a small boy. As a man Will seems at ease with his sexuality but it is on another holiday that the traumatic effects of that long ago summer come back to question his happiness. Were his parents quite as happy and as normal as he always thought they were? The relationship between them in the present part of the novel where the mother is suffering from early-onset Alzheimer's is very moving. I do not want to reveal the plot so cannot say too much here but it will keep you guessing with plenty of hints but exactly what happened is not revealed until the final chapters. More information can be found in my post at LindyLouMac's Book Reviews http://lindyloumacbookreviews.blogspo...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    Wow - I don't often read more than one book by the same author (apart from Classics that is). However, I loved Notes from an Exhibition and thought I'd try another from Patrick Gale. What a great read - you don't often find characters described in quite such accurate detail - each with their own, very deep issues and all intertwined in such complex ways. I really felt I got to know all of them. Yes, I did find myself turning back a few pages every now and then to remember what had happened, but Wow - I don't often read more than one book by the same author (apart from Classics that is). However, I loved Notes from an Exhibition and thought I'd try another from Patrick Gale. What a great read - you don't often find characters described in quite such accurate detail - each with their own, very deep issues and all intertwined in such complex ways. I really felt I got to know all of them. Yes, I did find myself turning back a few pages every now and then to remember what had happened, but that's more a symptom of my (too superficial) reading style than a fault of the book. Reading the author's notes, it does seem that this book is more than a little autobigraphical; even if the characters differ from the real people in Mr Gale's life, some of the experiences seem all too real. Maybe this closeness to the truth is what brings it to life through his writing. Will I read another? It depends on time (of course) and availability. Sadly this was the only copy of the only Patrick Gale book available in my home (California) library.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kath Middleton

    Julian grows up a solitary boy, the only child in a rather straight-laced family. His father is a prison governor and Julian occasionally speaks to the prisoners. The family take a holiday in a remote seaside bungalow and are joined by his uncle and cousin. It’s as a result of what happened on that holiday that a repeat of the experience, when his cousin books the same bungalow proved traumatic for all, especially his mother with her gathering Alzheimer’s disease. I’m a great fan of Patrick Gale’ Julian grows up a solitary boy, the only child in a rather straight-laced family. His father is a prison governor and Julian occasionally speaks to the prisoners. The family take a holiday in a remote seaside bungalow and are joined by his uncle and cousin. It’s as a result of what happened on that holiday that a repeat of the experience, when his cousin books the same bungalow proved traumatic for all, especially his mother with her gathering Alzheimer’s disease. I’m a great fan of Patrick Gale’s writing. It’s elegant, sophisticated but not in the least flowery. It’s what writers should aspire to. He takes apart a family teetering on the brink of not really knowing each other, or of being in denial of what they know, and analyses their actions and deeds in an almost forensic detail. A really great book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Snoakes

    Patrick Gale's books are brilliant. This one feels a bit personal too - there's more than a bit of autobiographical detail in Julian's character. Believable characters, two time frames and a ton of plot. Highly Recommended.

  7. 5 out of 5

    John Wiltshire

    This is my second reading of this novel and it's so intricate, so beautifully written that it certainly deserves a revisit. The plotting is extremely clever. John and Francis, a middle class and rather repressed young couple, take their only child, 8-year-old Julian, on holiday to a bungalow by the sea in Cornwall in the 196os. Thirty years later (Frances now suffering from early onset of dementia and John needing a respite from caring for her alone) they all return to the cottage for two weeks. This is my second reading of this novel and it's so intricate, so beautifully written that it certainly deserves a revisit. The plotting is extremely clever. John and Francis, a middle class and rather repressed young couple, take their only child, 8-year-old Julian, on holiday to a bungalow by the sea in Cornwall in the 196os. Thirty years later (Frances now suffering from early onset of dementia and John needing a respite from caring for her alone) they all return to the cottage for two weeks. Julian (now calling himself Will) thinks it's the same house, but can't untangle his 8-year-old, fragmented memories. Francis and John are sure it's that cottage. But no one is talking about this terrible coincidence. What happened in that long lost summer shaped all their lives in ways they have still not come to terms with. Will is a great character. A lonely, sensitive little boy, he fills in the gaps of his knowledge through imagination. Parents didn't talk about things, particularly not to children. As a man just turned 40 he's still living a repressed, lonely life, having an affair with a married man which lacks all the real intimacy Will craves. The writing of these people is a masterclass in character development and heartachingly painful and touching. I'll update when finished. Finished. Isn't it interesting how a book reveals itself to us differently when we are older. When I first read this, it seemed to me to be mainly a very satisfying love story. Now, however, older and nostalgic for times that can't come again, it's the loss of innocence and the destruction of childhood that mostly strikes me. Julian is the archetypal imaginative, sweet little boy. He takes his beloved guinea pig on holiday with him for goodness sake. By the end of the holiday, Lady Percy is lost and so is Julian's childhood--to the extent that he actually reinvents himself as Will. Adult selfishness strikes me as the theme of this novel now. I cannot recommend Patrick Gale too highly if you want a challenging, engrossing, thought-provoking read.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Diane Will

    Enjoyable enough but had trouble keeping up with the past and present chapters and names at times. I didn't find there was really a plot as such, which kind of disappointed. A childhood summer holiday gone past and 'coming to terms with uncomfortable truths about parents and himself'. They are joined one summer by his Uncle and cousin and repercussions of what happened back then come to a head in the future chapters. Affairs happen within the family. Dementia is mentioned regarding his mother, w Enjoyable enough but had trouble keeping up with the past and present chapters and names at times. I didn't find there was really a plot as such, which kind of disappointed. A childhood summer holiday gone past and 'coming to terms with uncomfortable truths about parents and himself'. They are joined one summer by his Uncle and cousin and repercussions of what happened back then come to a head in the future chapters. Affairs happen within the family. Dementia is mentioned regarding his mother, which was a touch sad in places, but written with sensitivity.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alison Newell

    This book is the most overtly gay of Patrick Gale's novels that I have read so far, in that its main character is gay and the story involves his long-standing relationship with an 'in the closet' lover and the commencement of a new relationship. But the gay aspects of this story are really incidental. Its main subject is family; the scarcely-skinned-over fissures which families struggle on with over years and years, the unaddressed issues which can fester and yet which also hone us into more forg This book is the most overtly gay of Patrick Gale's novels that I have read so far, in that its main character is gay and the story involves his long-standing relationship with an 'in the closet' lover and the commencement of a new relationship. But the gay aspects of this story are really incidental. Its main subject is family; the scarcely-skinned-over fissures which families struggle on with over years and years, the unaddressed issues which can fester and yet which also hone us into more forgiving, tolerant, understanding people. They test our love, and if it survives the test, love becomes stronger. As previously with Gale, he uses a delicate but powerful catalyst to make the central spine of his plot; in this case, the insidious progress of Alzheimer's disease. A vague absent-mindedness and a developing tendency to use swear words in a respectable wife and mother are endearing and even humorous at first, but increasing confusion, loss of vocabulary and memory-blanks lead to the heart-breaking day when she does not recognise her family. Two holidays create two time-frames for the story, separated by some thirty odd years. In each a betrayal is perpetrated, observed but only partly understood; in the one case, by an eight year old boy and in the second by a dementia-dazed older woman. Both holidays take place in the same house. Setting therefore, of house and cove and landscape, unifies the two. These parallels and reflections across time are beautifully done; Gale effectively tells the same story twice, shifting perspectives and roles amongst the Paget family which dramatically alters the impact and outcome of each. 'Rough Music' refers to a means by which homosexuality is denigrated in some cultures. Since Will's sexuality is never denigrated by anyone, even his hide-bound, uber-respectable parents, it seemed an odd choice for the title. Will himself changes his name between the earlier and later time frames, for no good reason that I could fathom. It only created a lingering doubt that the two were indeed one and the same which lessened, rather than increased the impact of other coincidences and parallels. Gale's writing, as always, is deft and evocative, a real treat.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jacky

    This book was ok, not really my type of novel. The book switches between the present and a period 30 years or so earlier. In the past the story follows Julian and his parents whilst holidaying in Cornwall. They are joined by his uncle and cousin from America. The story is very predictable. Julian's mother has an affair with her brother in law. Thirty years on Julian (now called Will) is given a birthday present of a week in Cornwall, back at the same cottage (although initially no one remembers the This book was ok, not really my type of novel. The book switches between the present and a period 30 years or so earlier. In the past the story follows Julian and his parents whilst holidaying in Cornwall. They are joined by his uncle and cousin from America. The story is very predictable. Julian's mother has an affair with her brother in law. Thirty years on Julian (now called Will) is given a birthday present of a week in Cornwall, back at the same cottage (although initially no one remembers the cottage). He elects to take his parents. His mother is suffering from early stage dementia. They are joined by Will's brother in law and nephews. Will is having an affair with his brother in law. The story looks at the repercussions of the affairs over time. The story handles the dementia decline very well. One odd part highlights Julian's fathers role as a prison governor. Julian (aged about 8) has regular contact (pre holiday) with gardening prisoners, including a rapist. This part doesn't ring true, why would an eight year old be exposed to the risk of such an encounter?

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jayne Charles

    Another great novel from Patrick Gale who is rapidly becoming one of my favourite authors. Told as a mixture of past and present, it is full of varied interest, so much so that once the main 'twist' had been revealed, some way from the end, an astonishing number of loose ends still remained to be tied up. It wasn't quite as good as 'Notes from an Exhibition' but it wasn't very far off! Clearly Gale has drawn on his own experiences for some of the subject matter, but a great deal more of it must Another great novel from Patrick Gale who is rapidly becoming one of my favourite authors. Told as a mixture of past and present, it is full of varied interest, so much so that once the main 'twist' had been revealed, some way from the end, an astonishing number of loose ends still remained to be tied up. It wasn't quite as good as 'Notes from an Exhibition' but it wasn't very far off! Clearly Gale has drawn on his own experiences for some of the subject matter, but a great deal more of it must have been based on research. He does this so well that it hardly shows, and he knows his characters right down to the smallest details: for example Julian refers to his father as 'smelling of Old Spice and ironing'! I guessed the twist, unusual for me! But I think I got lucky because it's a very very clever one.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Louise

    Not his best work I didn't think (that's still notes on an exhibition for me) but a good read non the less. His characters always seem so believable no matter what situation they are in... Has me looking to see what else in his back catalogue I haven't read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lydia Bailey

    Another absorbing read from Patrick Gale. He is the master of multi layered characters and multi layered plots which he enjoys revealing gradually, layer by single layer. I really enjoyed the Cornish setting of this one but didn’t find it flowed as well as his more famous Cornwall based book, Notes from an Exhibition. To be fair though, I have only had sporadic amounts of reading time lately, so this probably hasn’t helped with finding the flow of the book. A really interesting setting of a fami Another absorbing read from Patrick Gale. He is the master of multi layered characters and multi layered plots which he enjoys revealing gradually, layer by single layer. I really enjoyed the Cornish setting of this one but didn’t find it flowed as well as his more famous Cornwall based book, Notes from an Exhibition. To be fair though, I have only had sporadic amounts of reading time lately, so this probably hasn’t helped with finding the flow of the book. A really interesting setting of a family living within prison accommodation (father is a prison governor) with alternating between the main character’s childhood and the present day (30 years later) but mainly in the same holiday house on a Cornish beach. There are so many sub-plots woven between the main issues of family dynamics, family secrets & the effects of Alzheimer’s on the family that I did find it a little confusing in places (as was the time hopping which is a format I usually love). Patrick Gale ties it all up neatly at the end though & definitely is an author who never gives a disappointing ending!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    I really feel Rough Music should be a four star rating and I think it would be had I not read Notes from an Exhibition and A Perfectly Good Man earlier this year. Both of which were superb. This is good and in comparison to many many other authors it is streets ahead. However maybe my head wasn't there or it didn't touch me as the previous two did, it stays a three star. That said Patrick Gale remains by far one of my favorite authors currently. He is a master craftsman, I simply adore his use o I really feel Rough Music should be a four star rating and I think it would be had I not read Notes from an Exhibition and A Perfectly Good Man earlier this year. Both of which were superb. This is good and in comparison to many many other authors it is streets ahead. However maybe my head wasn't there or it didn't touch me as the previous two did, it stays a three star. That said Patrick Gale remains by far one of my favorite authors currently. He is a master craftsman, I simply adore his use of language and how adept he is at creating such special novels. This is the story of Julian, his emotionally detached father, Frances his perfectly imperfect mother and the intriguing relationship with his sister. It is also the finding of love, companionship and forgiveness. It is told in the same holiday house but with many years between, a lovely way of skipping back in time and creating tension and context. The characters are rich and beautifully constructed and the twisting turn of events so incredibly believable.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Diane Dickson

    Well my word this is not a cheerful book, even the seemingly happy parts are overlaid with a sense of doom. It handles some really difficult subjects sensitively and with a wonderful insight. The characters are all flawed in some way or another and in more than one way with most of them. It's an intricate and tangled tale of a completely and utterly dysfunctional set of family members - not sure I can even call them family to be honest. It has a tantalizing little thread of real crime to add spic Well my word this is not a cheerful book, even the seemingly happy parts are overlaid with a sense of doom. It handles some really difficult subjects sensitively and with a wonderful insight. The characters are all flawed in some way or another and in more than one way with most of them. It's an intricate and tangled tale of a completely and utterly dysfunctional set of family members - not sure I can even call them family to be honest. It has a tantalizing little thread of real crime to add spice to the mix. It is rich and deep and though they are all broken in some way you really hope that there is peace. When it comes at the end it is bittersweet - although there is one very bright little flame. Thoroughly enjoyed it but I think I need to get back to some dark and dastardly crime because I am emotionally exhausted and rather morose.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lee

    I was blown away by the complexity of this story. Everything and everyone constantly evolving and opening up. So well written. Four Stars!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bev

    Loved it! Wanted to do nothing but read till I’d finished it but alas, not possible! I love getting into the lives of everyday people with their everyday issues.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Damian McNicholl

    Enjoyed. Character development strong although somewhat quiet.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Huw Rhys

    Patrick Gale doesn't write about big topics - if you want to read homiletic tomes on war, terrorism, economics, political theory and so on, then you're probably better off staying away from his novels. But if you like beautifully written, intricately crafted personal novels that look at relationships, emotions, self awareness (or lack of it) and individual growth, if you like novels where the characters come alive for you, and you're left wanting to know more about how their futures unfolded at t Patrick Gale doesn't write about big topics - if you want to read homiletic tomes on war, terrorism, economics, political theory and so on, then you're probably better off staying away from his novels. But if you like beautifully written, intricately crafted personal novels that look at relationships, emotions, self awareness (or lack of it) and individual growth, if you like novels where the characters come alive for you, and you're left wanting to know more about how their futures unfolded at the end of a novel, if you like gentle tales of the ways families are, and how events can shape their destinies, then you really ought to try reading some of Patrick Gale's works. This novel again is set mainly in Cornwall, though the landscape, people and way of life in mainland Britain's most westerly county are not as prevalent a factor in this offering as they are in some others. It jumps backwards and forwards some 30 or so years at a time, seeing the world as it was then and as it is now from the viewpoints of three of the major protagonists in the piece. As each onion skin is peeled back elegantly, we begin to realize that we're actually reading about a number of mysteries which slowly unfold throughout the pages. But there is no real climactic denouement - the end is ever so slightly predictable, but it's the predictability of the flawed nature of humanity which makes the whole novel so painfully pleasant to enjoy. Like his other books, this is just a really lovely read. My only criticism of the author is that I'm reading his excellent books quicker than he can write them.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Chana

    Wrong genre for me again. This book is about all in the family adultery, both heterosexual and homosexual, and Alzheimer's disease. Not that one leads to the other or anything. But one doesn't prevent the other either; commit adultery and avoid alzheimer's, it doesn't work that way. Anyone can get alzheimer's, chas v'shalom. OK, whatever, I think I am avoiding writing this review because I really didn't like this book very much. Patrick Gale writes well, if you don't mind reading the content. I Wrong genre for me again. This book is about all in the family adultery, both heterosexual and homosexual, and Alzheimer's disease. Not that one leads to the other or anything. But one doesn't prevent the other either; commit adultery and avoid alzheimer's, it doesn't work that way. Anyone can get alzheimer's, chas v'shalom. OK, whatever, I think I am avoiding writing this review because I really didn't like this book very much. Patrick Gale writes well, if you don't mind reading the content. I minded reading the content. Do I have anything else to say about it? I did bookmark a couple of quotes where I found that my opinion and Mr. Gales were just polar opposites: "...love, marriage, motherhood, those gimcrack medals of social standing and parental approval..." "You don't take straight couples very seriously do you?" I might have avoided this book if I had known that "rough music" was noise made outside the houses of people who engaged in unacceptable sexual practices according to their communities standards. Someone else might like this book, as I said he writes very well. The stuff about the prison breakout was fascinating; and the ending of the book was really well done. btw, looking through reviews I am the only person who does not like this book! One person gave it a 2, everyone else gave 4's or 5's. I am not changing my opinion but just wanted to say I am in the minority here.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Robin

    4.5 stars. This is my first introduction to Patrick Gale and I really enjoyed this novel. When Will takes his parents, brother in law and nephews with him on a holiday in Cornwall, they also take with them a family secret which will blow up in their faces. While there it becomes apparent that their holiday house is the same one Will stayed in when he was a child on holiday with his parents and his glamorous American relatives. At that time, too, a secret which was uncovered changed the course of 4.5 stars. This is my first introduction to Patrick Gale and I really enjoyed this novel. When Will takes his parents, brother in law and nephews with him on a holiday in Cornwall, they also take with them a family secret which will blow up in their faces. While there it becomes apparent that their holiday house is the same one Will stayed in when he was a child on holiday with his parents and his glamorous American relatives. At that time, too, a secret which was uncovered changed the course of everyone’s lives. The story is told in two parallel narratives of the past and the present, and the author skilfully weaves the strands together so that it all comes together seamlessly at the end – a very difficult feat, particularly as the story is written from a number of different points of view. You’re aware as you’re reading it that it’s all going to come together at the end, but the author keeps you engaged and deftly keeps you intrigued as to how. I really like the theme and conclusion that love wins out and triumphs over adversity – not in a soppy, idealistic way, but in a spirit of warm-hearted realism. Ultimately, although there are times of immense sorrow, grief and pain, it’s an uplifting book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Wendle

    I think the thing i don’t like about Gale’s books is that they are character driven. There is no main plot or storyline, per se, but an exploration of the characters and their lives. I’m sure others would argue that the characters’ lives is the storyline, but i see it more as a series of events. Semantics, but there is a difference. Regardless, Gale is brilliant at what he does. He shaped these vivid and flawed and realistic characters, he made me sympathise and despise all of them in turn. Alth I think the thing i don’t like about Gale’s books is that they are character driven. There is no main plot or storyline, per se, but an exploration of the characters and their lives. I’m sure others would argue that the characters’ lives is the storyline, but i see it more as a series of events. Semantics, but there is a difference. Regardless, Gale is brilliant at what he does. He shaped these vivid and flawed and realistic characters, he made me sympathise and despise all of them in turn. Although i dislike the lack of a plot, characters can make or break a book for me. I don’t have to like them, but they have to be well-written, and these ones are. I was gripped, basically. I knew the vague plot, and the major points of what had happened on the first holiday, while the drama that would be surrounding the second holiday is revealed very early on. These weren’t the things that made the story gripping. It was the details, the characters and their motivations. A longer review can be read at my book blog: Marvel at Words.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    This book was a complete unknown to me - never having heard of its title or author before. I thought it was a thriller, so I picked it up as a holiday read, not expecting anything overwhelmingly good in terms of the writing. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. 'Rough Music' is a very well put together book. The chapters switch between present day and a recollection of a family holiday from the protagonist's childhood. During the present day he visits a similar holiday cottage with his elde This book was a complete unknown to me - never having heard of its title or author before. I thought it was a thriller, so I picked it up as a holiday read, not expecting anything overwhelmingly good in terms of the writing. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. 'Rough Music' is a very well put together book. The chapters switch between present day and a recollection of a family holiday from the protagonist's childhood. During the present day he visits a similar holiday cottage with his elderly parents. The two perspectives compliment each other really well and though the author drops occasional hints about there possibly being more to the story than meets the eye, they are subtle and fit well into the narrative so you're never made to feel like you need to be making constant guesses at "the twist", you're merely observing a gradual unravelling of the story. Basically I would say 'Rough Music' is a well written, enjoyable novel with a great plot and good characterisation. I wouldn't say that its appeal is limited to a preference for any particular genre either, so would recommend to anyone who fancies some light escapism.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mediaevalgirl

    I read this for my Queer book club and initially I found the beginning rather boring but as I read on I started to really enjoy the story and get engrossed in it. The story is about the gift of a family holiday gone very wrong. The trip awakens old, painful memories and bursts open new, startling secrets. Love, family dysfunction and relationships all rolled into one. It jumps back and forth between the past and the present with quite a few interesting twists to it. The protagonist, Will, is gay I read this for my Queer book club and initially I found the beginning rather boring but as I read on I started to really enjoy the story and get engrossed in it. The story is about the gift of a family holiday gone very wrong. The trip awakens old, painful memories and bursts open new, startling secrets. Love, family dysfunction and relationships all rolled into one. It jumps back and forth between the past and the present with quite a few interesting twists to it. The protagonist, Will, is gay, just turned 40 and coasting through life on auto pilot. He observes but never really participates in life. This trip to Cornwall with his family shakes him out of his waking slumber and calls into question his past and current life. It's well written and once you get past the first few chapters, it picks up and gets very good. I especially like the time shifting between the past and present because it all comes together well at the end.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    Immensely gripping family drama in which runs two concurrent storylines - one the childhood Cornish holiday of Julian and his parents, joined by two estranged American relatives, and the second a return to the holiday home as an adult, accompanied by his parents again (this time with mum suffering from early onset Alzheimers) and his brother-in-law... All of the characters are incredibly well-drawn, and the pace was masterful - the reveal of what happened on the first holiday, along with the dram Immensely gripping family drama in which runs two concurrent storylines - one the childhood Cornish holiday of Julian and his parents, joined by two estranged American relatives, and the second a return to the holiday home as an adult, accompanied by his parents again (this time with mum suffering from early onset Alzheimers) and his brother-in-law... All of the characters are incredibly well-drawn, and the pace was masterful - the reveal of what happened on the first holiday, along with the dramatic revelation of present day secrets kept me enthralled long past bed-time. I don't want to say too much else for fear of spoiling what was a beautifully constructed plot, other than to say this was a fabulously written book about memories, intimacy and the fear of it, and the secrets that threaten to tear families apart, as well as bind them together.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bookmaniac70

    I go more and more into liking this writer. He possesses the ability to create a sustained tension,an inner dynamic of the events and thoughts. I hardly could put the book down. There were some small flaws in the plot,for example, I wouldn`t expect someone so reserved like Francis to fall so easy into a love affair and demonstrate her feelings so openly before the children. The reaction of John was not mentioned. Judging from their restrained relationship,I would like to see more foundation for I go more and more into liking this writer. He possesses the ability to create a sustained tension,an inner dynamic of the events and thoughts. I hardly could put the book down. There were some small flaws in the plot,for example, I wouldn`t expect someone so reserved like Francis to fall so easy into a love affair and demonstrate her feelings so openly before the children. The reaction of John was not mentioned. Judging from their restrained relationship,I would like to see more foundation for his love and forgiveness. Also, I think Will`s love affair with the scuptor was a bit forced into the plot. Anyway,these didn`t prevent from enjoying this good novel.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sophy H

    Well I officially love Patrick Gale's books! He has the uncanny knack, rather like Elizabeth Strout, of getting inside people's heads and portraying them, their emotions, decisions and consequences; all with the ease and confidence of a natural storyteller. This story combines many different intermingling facets and junctures; childhood, sexuality, infidelity, guilt, obligation, enduring relationships. It is cleverly atmospheric and grounded in place and time. The writing feels effortless and I Well I officially love Patrick Gale's books! He has the uncanny knack, rather like Elizabeth Strout, of getting inside people's heads and portraying them, their emotions, decisions and consequences; all with the ease and confidence of a natural storyteller. This story combines many different intermingling facets and junctures; childhood, sexuality, infidelity, guilt, obligation, enduring relationships. It is cleverly atmospheric and grounded in place and time. The writing feels effortless and I was thoroughly absorbed from beginning to end. A true masterpiece, would highly recommend.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jan Laney

    A cleverly crafted plot which moves deftly between two separate periods in time and reveals the troubles and turmoil of characters who are completely convincing. This has such a ring of truth- some passages seem to come straight from the heart- that I was not surprised to hear that this novel has many autobiographical links. I loved it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Debs Cooper

    God, I loved this SO much. The intricacies and emotions that are embedded in this story of a family coming-of-age will stay with me for a very long time. I'm very excited about reading more by Patrick Gale.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ian

    An excellent Book, and a very interesting study of people and their behaviour towards one another. At times difficult to follow, but well worth persevering with. I rarely read books twice but this one might be the exception.

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