Saturday 30 June 2018

Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale @PNovelistGale @TinderPress @PublicityBooks #TakeNothingWithYou

1970s Weston-Super-Mare and ten-year-old oddball Eustace, an only child, has life transformed by his mother's quixotic decision to sign him up for cello lessons. Music-making brings release for a boy who is discovering he is an emotional volcano. He laps up lessons from his young teacher, not noticing how her brand of glamour is casting a damaging spell over his frustrated and controlling mother.
When he is enrolled in holiday courses in the Scottish borders, lessons in love, rejection and humility are added to daily practice.
Drawing in part on his own boyhood, Patrick Gale's new novel explores a collision between childish hero worship and extremely messy adult love lives.

Take Nothing With You by Patrick Gale is published by Tinder Press in hardback on 21 August 2018. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

When my signed, special edition, hardback proof of Take Nothing With You dropped through my letterbox, I admit that I did a little dance of joy. When Headline publicity director, Georgina Moore Tweeted about the book ages ago, I knew that I'd probably do anything to get hold of a copy.

I am a huge fan of Patrick Gale's writing. He's very hard to generalise and this week I've described as a bit like a male Maggie O'Farrell or Sarah Waters. His last book; A Place Called Winter was one of my favourite books of 2015, he creates magic with words.

Take Nothing With You is Eustace's story and begins as he contemplates the fact that he's fallen in love, for the third time and also has cancer. Eustace is in his fifties and is wealthy and successful, he's not yet actually met Theo, the man he's fallen for. Their relationship has been played out over the internet as Theo is serving in the military. Eustace hasn't told Theo about his diagnosis. Only his best friend Naomi is aware of everything.

Eustace begins his radiotherapy treatment, in a lead-lined room, with nothing except a paperback book, a TV screen and an MP3 player full of music put together by Naomi. It is this cello music that evokes memories in Eustace and takes him, and the reader back to his childhood in Weston Super Mare.

Eustace, as a child, is unlike the adult man. He's awkward, living in a large gothic house filled with elderly people (his parents run a residential home), and isn't really sure of what or who he is. When his mother suggests that he take up music lessons and he begins to play the clarinet, he's still not sure if it's the right thing for him. When he abandons the clarinet due to his teacher's arrest for 'child fiddling', and he discovers the cello instead that he realises the beauty and power of music, and falls in love for the first time.

The novel follows Eustace as he totally dedicates his life to his cello lessons. Things at home are difficult, his parents' relationship is fraught and becomes more difficult as time goes on. Eustace is also discovering his sexuality, and his struggle with that is beautifully and sensitively portrayed.

Whilst Eustace is the lead character here, Patrick Gale's supporting characters are so beautifully created that at times, they almost steal the show from Eustace. His cello teacher, and her friends; the boys at school; his mother and Naomi; the girl who becomes his best friend and stays by his side until adulthood.

This is Eustace's story of survival in a world that seems to have so many barriers for him. There are some incredibly sad and emotional parts, but there's a wonderful wit and humour within the writing that keeps the story from becoming too dark and too anguished.

I can't say any more. I don't really have the words to express just how much I loved this book. It's not fast-paced or action filled, with twists and turns. It is however, so tender, so insightful and full of love. The power of love; the power of music and the power of kind and influential adults upon a young boy.

Intelligent, warm, cleverly structured. A novel to cherish and to shout about. Fabulous, just fabulous.

Patrick Gale was born on the Isle of Wight in 1962. 
He 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. 
He's a passionate gardener, cook, and cellist and chairs the North Cornwall Book Festival each October. 
His sixteen novels include the Costa-shortlisted A Place Called Winter, A Perfectly Good Man and Notes From an Exhibition - both of which were Richard and Judy Bookclub selections - The Whole Day Through and Rough Music. 
His latest, Take Nothing With You is a tale of teenage obsession, sexuality, betrayal and music-making. 
You can find out more on his website
Instagram @trevilley
Facebook Author Page
Twitter @PNovelistGale

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