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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An author who gets it right every time. Fantastic!
I'll be brief: I've been reading Gale's work since Little Bits of Baby (still in my Top Ten along with his Facts of Life).
He has completely mastered the ability to portray the complexities of human nature in a most accessible way - the landscapes of his characters' emotions and motivations are laid out before us with considerable dexterity. Similarly the various UK...
Published on 16 May 2005 by Tony Jackson

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars I gave up!
I love books set in boarding schools but I couldn't persevere with Friendly Fire. I found the characters so flat that I didn't care about them; there was just nothing to excite or compel me to read further.
Published on 31 Oct 2012 by Amazon Customer


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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An author who gets it right every time. Fantastic!, 16 May 2005
By 
Tony Jackson - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I'll be brief: I've been reading Gale's work since Little Bits of Baby (still in my Top Ten along with his Facts of Life).
He has completely mastered the ability to portray the complexities of human nature in a most accessible way - the landscapes of his characters' emotions and motivations are laid out before us with considerable dexterity. Similarly the various UK locations of his novels are expertly depicted.
I would suggest that he has yet to produce a poor novel - and that is why I buy them on day of publication and read them in very few sittings. How many authors can create the same sense of expectation and maintain the mix of high standards and originality?
In Friendly Fire he brings to life those strains and fears of adolescence - via youths of widely differing backgrounds and set in juxtaposed locations of public school, children's home and bourgeois suburbia. I for one felt transported back to my early to mid teens.
And, finally, if you are heading for a beach this (like his others) will hit the spot. Not because it's simplistic literature - it just reads so well.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awake My Soul, 28 Jun 2005
By A Customer
It's not surprising that Gale, brought up in prisons and public schools, should return from time to time to tales of institutional life. What is surprising is the freshness of perspective he manages to find in each reworking of a familiar milieu.
Themes recur as well as places: the outsider as the reference point for sanity (and often morality) and the use of a central character who is in some way freakish: Sophie, our protagonist here, has a bizarrely parent-less and yet multi-parented life and is reminiscent of Dido from A Sweet Obscurity in that though a child, she has a certain grave maturity which affects the lives of the adults around her.
These outsiders' stories may or may not carry some metaphorical representation of Gale's experiences as a gay man but what is fascinating is his ability to find the dystopic in the 'normal' and set it against the surer groundings which the freaks have managed to dredge out of their less-than-fortunate circumstances.
I've just read Kazuo Ishiguro's 'Never Let Me Go' and there are interesting comparisons: Ishiguro's narrative is also set in a boarding school, also focuses on the interplay between apparently unusual children and the adult world around them. But Gale's story is the subtler of the two in that he does the whole job with character, rather than needing to invent a sinister parallel reality in order to provide the metaphorical underpinnings for outsider-hood.
I noted in a previous review that Gale is often compared to Joanna Trollope and Iris Murdoch. In Friendly Fire, we get a good taste of Dickens too: When Dr Harestock announces the morning hymn he 'never treated the first line as a title but read until the first full stop.' In Great Expectations, Mr. Wopsle's announcements of the psalm always involve his 'giving the whole first verse.'
Dickensian too are the wonderful illustrations by Aidan Hicks: not only are they lovely in their own right, but they can also be used by the eagle-eyed as a way of foretelling the action as each chapter begins.
You get a lot with Gale: he's clearly read everything good in English Literature and knows how to play the magpie with it. But he is never less than original even in this, his thirteenth novel. I can't think of an intelligent person I know who could fail to enjoy it and to appreciate its subtle, lingering charm.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-constructed and sympathetic novel, 31 May 2005
By A Customer
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Lots of interesting detail about Winchester College. Hard to believe that Sophie would have been so unrebellious, that punk could have so little impact on these kids, that a low-class girl like Sophie could be so at ease with all the members of the upper classes that she comes into contact with.
The characters, Charlie, Lucas and Mr Compton are drawn much more convincingly than the straight ones - Sophie, Wilf and Margaret.
Overall an enjoyable read but not the definitive seventies school novel.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harry Potter for Very Grown Ups, 6 April 2005
By 
Katharine Kirby "Kate" (HELSTON, Cornwall United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
Reading Patrick Gale is always time well spent. I am always impressed by the deep levels of understanding and knowledge that he brings to all kinds of situations. Patrick Gale knows his places and subject and doesn't let the reader down. Cornwall is nearly always used or referred to, which is good news. Friendly Fire at first does seem like a dark Harry Potter for Very Grown Ups and in it Gale has created a complete school world, including an unusual ball game that is described in detail, so there is a similarity.
Sophie, the central character, becomes our guide to this rarefied, eccentric society. Her story is tantalisingly hinted at throughout and she is a heroine who invites sympathy. Her friendships and loyalties are all well tested and each relationship brings her the experience of differing families that she needs to help her to mature.
The drawings at the beginning of each chapter are exquisite. The ending is controlled and satisfying and just barely believable!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Patrick Gale hits the mark every time, 29 Jun 2010
This review is from: Friendly Fire (Paperback)
I'm torn between wanting to have read everything Patrick Gale has written yet needing another one still to read. In Friendly Fire he has once again given a perfect depiction of childhood insecurity and contradictions - this time from a female point of view. The inevitable conclusion is that feminine/masculine vulnerabilities are interchangeable. The pace is excellent, the characters compelling, and the two main characters in particular extraordinarily empathetic. The plot thickens from a savoury soup of adolescent angst, via class-ridden bigotry and ignorance, to an unexpected denouement handled adroitly and sensitively. Patrick Gale enables you to identify with multiple facets of humankind. There are the obvious comparisons with other authors, contemporary and otherwise but it is a mistake to compare - Patrick Gale has a voice all his own.Friendly Fire
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great book- still missing alittle something, 1 Oct 2006
This review is from: Friendly Fire (Paperback)
I would definately say that this book is a great read. It is about a young yet very articulate orphan named Sophie. By reading this book we get to see what the changes and ups and downs of a teenage girl's life as we watch her grow up throughout the novel. This novel is a great read because it captures the the deeper true feelings and emotions that a real girl would go through. This book is an eye opener as it deals with characters that what we in society would label as 'outcasts', but instead it gives us an insight into their world and it really widens and gives us different perspectives on life situations that we may have not have even seen before. I have to admit this book has some very deep themes at times and can prove to be alittle too much for some readers.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of his best novels!, 15 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Friendly Fire (Paperback)
If you went to public boarding school, of couse you would have a different slant on any book which tried to give you a taste of that life. That said, and coming from a world of 13 different grammar schools( my father was in the RAF) I found the story fascinating. I read it in one hit. Not wanting to put it down, I really wanted to know what happened next. Patrick Gale is one of my favourite authors because he can put himself in the mindset of anyone!
One of his best novels.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, 25 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Friendly Fire (Paperback)
Bitter sweet - v funny in places and completely irresistable. Highly recommended - especially if you are a Patrick Gale fan :)
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5.0 out of 5 stars what a good author, 12 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Friendly Fire (Paperback)
brilliant book i enjoyed it so much i got another for a pressant and have since got more of his books . The story is about life i laughed and cried its beautiful
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2.0 out of 5 stars I gave up!, 31 Oct 2012
This review is from: Friendly Fire (Paperback)
I love books set in boarding schools but I couldn't persevere with Friendly Fire. I found the characters so flat that I didn't care about them; there was just nothing to excite or compel me to read further.
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Friendly Fire
Friendly Fire by Patrick Gale (Paperback - 7 Jan 2008)
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