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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put it down!
This is a beautifully crafted book in which two generational strands alternate, gradually interweave and finally converge. The characters are entirely credible and perceptively drawn, especially the mother and the main character as a young boy who evokes universal feelings of childhood. A book which is both touching and wise. Utterly absorbing.
Published on 6 Aug 2001

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Curate's Egg
This is not a bad book. Really, it's not. But having read the wonderful "Notes from an Exhibition" I was hoping for something more. This book just isn't at the same level. It is clearly the work of a talented writer: the descriptions are vivid, the prose well-constructed and some of the scenes are genuinely heart-touching, particularly the closing chapter. But the...
Published 14 months ago by dajp


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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put it down!, 6 Aug 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Rough Music (Paperback)
This is a beautifully crafted book in which two generational strands alternate, gradually interweave and finally converge. The characters are entirely credible and perceptively drawn, especially the mother and the main character as a young boy who evokes universal feelings of childhood. A book which is both touching and wise. Utterly absorbing.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book and found it really hard to put down!, 30 Oct 2006
By 
Sandra Marshall (Almerimar, Spain) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Rough Music (Paperback)
I loved this book, found it really hard to put down and have already checked out the author's other books on Amazon for future reading! It is written in an easy to read style but the characters are complex, interesting and sympathetic and left me wanting to know more about them.

It is mainly set around a holiday cottage in Cornwall over two family visits separated by 30 years, and the events of the past slowly unravel and merge with the characters' present day lives, as twists and details are revealed.

If you like strong characters and insights into human relationships this is a great book ... not a lot of action but very thoughtful and it left me with questions about things that were not quite resolved or clear.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I LOVED THIS BOOK!, 6 Dec 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Rough Music (Paperback)
From the first few pages I was utterly captivated as the author drew me back into a long forgotten childhood. Gale's descriptive style of the Cornish sea and surroundings had me entranced and I was instantly intrigued by the obvious mysteries surrounding the characters. I especially enjoyed the way he used two storylines, one set in the past and one in the present, in each alternate chapter. This book was poignant and thought provoking - the description of Frances's descent into Alzheimers particularly moving. Absorbing, compelling and wonderful, I recommend this book to everyone.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Patrick Gale classic, 15 Mar 2008
By 
Sevillana (Cambridgeshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Rough Music (Paperback)
I read Rough Magic after having read Notes from an Exhibition. This book is written in a similar style to Iris Murdoch which I absolutely loved. The emotional perspective is something Patrick Gale not only understands but relishes in his writing. His characterisations are superb. As soon as I finished the book I felt at a loss and began to re-read it, just to absorb the beautiful text and clever twists. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A complex but hugely enjoyable novel, 29 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Rough Music (Paperback)
For most novels, to reveal in a review that the central character is sleeping with his brother-in-law would ruin the story. "Rough Music" is not most novels. The relationship between Will and Sandy is just a tiny part of a text that looks at the childhood and adulthood of one man, and how one influences the other, and Gale does this with incredible skill. The method of switching between two narratives, set 30 years apart, could have so easily been confusing and annoying, let flows brilliantly. The plot is complemented by well drawn characters (with the possible exception of the slightly two-dimensional Roly, and the reader will care about them all. Contrary to what some say, intelligent readers will not feel the need to be spoon-fed the information concerning the identity of Will/Julian - indeed, the novel's major success it that this is gradually revealed to the reader, who can make their own deductions, rather than spelt out in block letters. "Rough Music" is hugely readable, and if you're put off by the "gay literature" tag, don't be; there is so much more to this text than the protganist's sexuality.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Family Holidays with a Twist, 19 May 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Rough Music (Paperback)
I bought this book two years ago because it was about Cornwall, and a part of Cornwall I know. It was unputdownable! I wasn't expecting it to be about gay men, and mothers having affairs with brothers-in-law. I was intrigued with each step back and forth the author took me. Reliving the family holiday in the 60's with the journey taking all night because the M4/M5 hadn't been built! then the up to date holiday with the role reversal - son looking after parents. Quite fascinating and now I've bought the latest Patrick Gale to read on holiday.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best so far..., 4 Oct 2009
By 
Iain C. Davidson "iain1825" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Rough Music (Paperback)
I have read four novels by Patrick Gale so far and, in my opinion, this is the best of the four (the others being 'Aerodynamics of Pork', 'Facts of Life' and 'Facing the Tank'). As others have noted, Gale's books are wonderfully easy to read whilst still being beautifully written - I would love to be able to write as seemingly effortlessly as that! Gale seems to like to write multi-strand, multi-character stories but this is probably the first time I have found each of the principals sympathetic and likeable in almost equal measure (almost because Frances and John engaged me marginally more than Will/Julian). I had no problem with the flipping back and forth between past and present in alternating chapters. Gale does this wonderfully clever thing where he eases the transition by giving each of the principals two chapters each in succession in each time period - this works very well. Its one of those books you keep thinking about for a while after you finish it.

As others have said, Frances' present day tale of her slip into early-onset Alzheimers is almost unbearably moving - those first and last chapters are a masterful stroke! On this, a third read, I was struck afresh at how wholly sympathetic a character John is and I liked him immensely. The early beach holiday is wonderfully nostalgic and brought back some memories of family camping holidays when I was a child (though thankfully not nearly so eventful). The book is not entirely without flaws - a couple of characters remain rather two dimensional (eg Roly and Bill) and indeed, I'm not sure that Roly was needed at all other than to provide a happy ending for Will; as in other Gale novels it seems remarkably easy to pick up handsome gay men in remote parts of the country! I was also rather unconvinced by Poppy's revelation towards the end about why she booked the cottage - it seemed out of character and I'm still not sure why she felt the need after so many years...

Still, on the whole I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be seeking out other novels by the same author.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable, 17 Feb 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Rough Music (Paperback)
It is fascinating how this book has provoked such different reactions.
I found it beautifully written and I cared about all of the characters - Frances both young and old was particularly sympathetic.
Very moving and nostalgic for children born in the sixties like me
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Looking back into the mirror, 20 April 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Rough Music (Paperback)
Rough Music (a term, according to the book of an archaic form of 'outing') means much to someone whose adolescence was spent in the mid- to late 1960s, but is certainly not confined to then. It is a thoughtful, lyrical work, never mawkish or, as so often with gay literature, gloomy and pessimistic, even though one of the principal characters is suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Contrasted with the principal character's readiness to embrace sexuality is the painfully familiar English (heterosexual) attitude to relationships even within marriage. Enjoyment, still less passion, just isn't right, and sex may just be permissible if a child is to be the result. The parents are accepting, but not entirely happy, and hope secretly that Will, the main character, will turn out 'normal' after all. Be prepared to spend time on this work - to rush it will be a loss. However, Patrick Gale could have been more ready to clarify that Will and Julian are the same person. The author may be forgiven this sin. The gradual awareness of sexual difference, with both problems and delights - all so very familiar - and without any meaningful help available - is deftly described. Don't rush this book, but do read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Time for a Booker Prize nomination ?, 18 May 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Rough Music (Paperback)
The latest offering from "the gay Joanna Trollope" (a soubriquet he'd probably appreciate) is another clever parallel story that makes the reader re-consider his or her own life. Gale's eye for family relationships is as sharp as ever: the on-the-surface tolerant mother whose actions are only partially-explained by her developing Alzheimers is a classic Gale character.
The recent return of Ronnie Biggs to the UK gives the story added piquancy, as the prisoner who escapes thanks to Julian's phone call in the 1960s part of the story is obviously based on Biggs.
I spent many childhood holidays in Cornwall and Gale now lives there: he imbues the place with a sense of liberation reminiscent of EM Forster (several of his earlier novels are also set there).
In my opinion Patrick Gale is among the best young British writers today, and thus I am impatiently waiting for "Rough Music" to be nominated for a major literary prize: it deserves it.
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Rough Music
Rough Music by Patrick Gale (Paperback - 14 May 2009)
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