A Perfectly Good Man by Patrick Gale: June 2012 book of the month
Patrick Gale is fast becoming a National Treasure. Our June book club pick, A Perfectly Good Man, is his 17th book. That alone deserves some kind of gong from the Queen.
But it is also his particular style of quiet, intelligent, clear and humorous writing that makes him a very British talent. Typical of Patrick Gale's novels is that you always feel as if you know his characters, that they were in your local Post Office just this morning, and you recognise their human frailty and tangled emotions.
Barnaby Johnson, the hero of this month's book, is a priest in a small West Cornwall parish. The first chapter sees him inadvertently assist the suicide of Lenny, a parishioner paralysed in a rugby accident.
Each subsequent chapter is a snapshot of different people in the parish, at different times of their lives, all of whom are connected to Barnaby. Slowly and deliciously, the story unfolds like backwards origami, with secrets and triumphs and betrayals opening out in sequence. And Barnaby himself is revealed as a truly good man - so rare in fiction, and so brilliantly and charismatically done - whose best efforts can often backfire.
It's a novel that makes you reflect on many issues - faith, marriage, adoption, mental illness - but most of all, shows you humanity in all its complex, crazy mixed-up wonderfulness. Marvellous. Sir Patrick Gale, we salute you.
Book club discussion: Wednesday 27 June, 9-10pm
We are delighted that Patrick will be joining us to chat about A Perfectly Good Man, his writing life and all his previous books, on Wed 27 June, 9-10pm. We'll be discussing the book throughout the month, so don't forget to post your thoughts and questions on the thread before the chat. Look forward to seeing you there.
If you'd like to get involved in the discussion you can buy a paper copy of A Perfectly Good Man here or if you would like to get started right away an e-book version of the novel is available here.
About Patrick Gale
Patrick Gale was born on the Isle of Wight in 1962 and spent his infancy at Wandsworth Prison, which his father governed, then grew up in Winchester. He now lives on a farm near Land's End. His most recent novels are The Whole Day Through and the bestseller Notes from an Exhibition.
Last updated: about 3 years ago