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Take Nothing With You

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Product Description

From the author of the Costa Shortlisted A PLACE CALLED WINTER comes a startling coming-of-age novel of boyhood and the collision between desire and reality.

From the bestselling author of A PLACE CALLED WINTER comes a new novel of boyhood, coming of age, and the confusions of desire and reality. For all readers of Ian McEwan's ATONEMENT or L P Hartley's THE GO-BETWEEN.

1970s Western-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.

Recommended by Graeme Aitken

"With almost twenty books to his name, Patrick Gale has often included gay and lesbian characters in his novels, although usually they tended to be secondary characters, not the main focus. Then in 2015 he struck out by moving from his long-term publisher to Hachette who published A Place Called Winter, an enthralling historical novel about a man banished from London after a homosexual scandal and forced to forge a new life in the wilds of Canada. It proved to be one of the most successful books in Gale’s long career, earning him a prestigious Costa Novel Prize nomination. He followed this up by writing the screenplay to the TV series The Man in the Orange Shirt, the centrepiece production of the BBC’s 2017 Gay Britannia season. This dual portrait of gay men during the 1940s and also contemporary times was a hit with the critics and viewers alike. Now he has written a new novel Take Nothing with You which also features a gay main character. Eustace, who we see largely as a teenager, is pursuing his passion for the cello. He is encouraged by his bohemian teacher Carla Gold, who lives with a gay male couple, and presents a marked lifestyle contrast to his home life. Eustace lives in a retirement home for the elderly that his parents manage. The great strength of these coming of age sections is the limited point of view that young Eustace has of people and events - because he is too young to fully understand or because he is wilfully deceived by the adults around him, especially his mother. Some sections of the novel are also present-day, with Eustace now 50-years-old, facing a major health-crisis, but also enlivened by a new long-distance love affair. ‘A health crisis for a middle-aged gay man’ proves not to be what the reader expects. It is revealed in the first few pages of the book that Eustace is HIV-positive, but it is dealt with very much as a non-issue which is refreshing. Rather Eustace has thyroid cancer, and at one point is obliged to take a radioactive iodine pill and spend 24 hours in a lead-lined isolation room. When he is free to leave, he must ‘take nothing with you.’ But the real heart of the novel is Eustace’s passion for the cello, his destiny as a musician, and how this ultimately plays out. The insider detail of playing the cello is extremely impressive, although in fact this is based closely on Patrick Gale’s own experiences. He was a promising cello player in his youth and was selected to attend courses at the International Cello Centre. This coming of age novel is a wonderful evocation of youth and and its many mysteries, enlivened with some very memorable characters, including a few complicated monsters."


Author: Patrick Gale.

Hardcover, August 2018.

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