Sunday, August 2, 2009

Notes from an Exhibition by Patrick Gale

This was my first Patrick Gale novel, so I had no preconceived ideas and am delighted to say that I found it absolutely engrossing. I will certainly be on the look out for other titles by this author in future.
The story is a powerful and emotional one revolving around the story of artist Rachel Kelly as her family deal with puzzling aspects of both her life and death. Rachel suffered from manic depression, now more commonly known as bi-polar disorder and led a life of highs and lows. The novel moves to its climatic and emotional ending through a series of non chronological chapters. At the start of each chapter is a curator’s note from an exhibition held in her honour posthumously. Each note sets the tone for the chapter, each one narrated by various family members, it works very well as one gradually builds a picture of Rachel’s complex life. Rachel has always been something of a mystery to her husband, Anthony and her four children, Garfield, Hedley, Morwenna and Petroc, after her death the family feel the need for answers and it is these we learn. Each characters feelings are well portrayed and I felt drawn to them all, plus I also enjoyed the Cornish setting and learning something about Quakerism.
I will certainly be recommending this title to friends and family that have not yet read it.

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