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Notes from an Exhibition by Patrick Gale

Notes from an Exhibition

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A fascinating look at mental illness and the effects it has. Rachel Kelly is bipolar causing her to be both charming and loveable as well as terrible to those around her. As an artist she finds some of her most creative moments are when she is not on her medication causing her to be inspired but emotionally erratic and we see the effects this has on the family who love her. This is an uplifting and inspired novel.

September 2009 Guest Editor Emily Barr on Notes from an Exhibition by PATRICK GALE

Another Cornish author, Gale portrays Cornwall, and particularly Penzance, in such a vivid way that you almost feel you can step into the story. His lightness of touch in dealing with skeletons in family closets, for example, is done with a skill to which I can only aspire, and the narrative is completely gripping.

If you like Patrick Gale you might also like to read books by Armistead Maupin, Alan Hollinghurst and Edmund White.


Notes from an Exhibition by Patrick Gale

When troubled artist Rachel Kelly dies painting obsessively in her attic studio in Penzance, her saintly husband and adult children have more than the usual mess to clear up. She leaves behind an extraordinary and acclaimed body of work – but she also leaves a legacy of secrets and emotional damage it will take months to unravel.

A wondrous, monstrous creature, she exerts a power that outlives her. To her children she is both curse and blessing, though they all in one way or another reap her whirlwind, inheriting her waywardness, her power of loving – and her demons…Only their father's Quaker gifts of stillness and resilience give them any chance of withstanding her destructive influence and the suspicion that they came a poor second to the creation of her art.

The reader becomes a detective, piecing together the clues of a life – as artist, lover, mother, wife and patient – which takes them from contemporary Penzance to 1960s Toronto to St Ives in the 1970s. What emerges is a story of enduring love, and of a family which weathers tragedy, mental illness and the intolerable strain of living with genius.

Patrick Gale's latest novel shines with intelligence, humour and tenderness.


'By the end I had laughed and cried and put all his other books on my wishlist. This is dense, thought-provoking, sensitive, satisfying, humourous, humane - a real treat' - Toby Clements, Telegraph

About the Author

Patrick Gale

Patrick Gale was our Guest Editor in June 2010 - click here - to see the books that inspired his writing.

Patrick Gale was born on the Isle of Wight. He spent his infancy at Wandsworth Prison, which his father governed, then grew up in Winchester before going to Oxford University. He now lives on a farm near Land's End. One of this country's best-loved novelists, his most recent works are A Perfectly Good Man, The Whole Day Through and the Richard and Judy bestseller Notes From An Exhibition.

Author photo © Daniel Hall Photography

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Book Info

Publication date

7th January 2008


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Harpercollins Publishers




Literary Fiction
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