Notes from an Exhibition by Patrick Gale

April 2011

Our first choice for the new book group was a novel based in Cornwall.  The author, born on the Isle of Wight, now lives near Land’s End and uses many familiar Cornish settings.

Notes from an Exhibition, his thirteenth novel, describes the life of abstract painter, Rachel, who lived and worked in St. Ives many years ago, when her fictional character could bump into well-known personages like Barbara Hepworth. The story follows the notes from a posthumous exhibition of Rachel’s work. As each piece is introduced we are drawn back to her life at the time it was painted. Though the works are not in chronological order, we slowly begin to build a complex picture of her – her artistic vision and manic depression. The narrative focuses primarily, however, on the bruises and scars her self-absorption inflicted on her dedicated husband and their four children.

Even with the difficult subject matter, it isn’t without humor. Gale’s empathy and insight made it a rewarding read for most of us.  Nevertheless, a couple of our group were not impressed with Gale’s writing style.

Our group decided that we would each mark the books we read on a scale from 1 – 10.  It adds a spark to the end of the discussion as we each explain/defend our rating.

POINTS:  7-6-6-6-5-4-6-7

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