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162 Reviews
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful, Useful Novel
Patrick Gale is perhaps slightly overlooked as a literary novelist but he is certainly that. His novels and short stories may give the appearance of undemanding narratives but I suspect there's a lot of craft in making them so and there is certainly a lot of art in making them something beyond just very good stories. His novel A Perfectly Good Man is a perfect fusion of...
Published on 12 Aug. 2012 by Jonathan Davidson

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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Perfectly Good Man
This was my first taste of a Patrick Gale novel and while I didn't find it a spectacular read, I did enjoy it enough that I will go on and read some of his other work.

What I particularly like about this offering was the way Gale told the story of Barnaby. He not only used the point of view of Barnaby at multiple ages, he did the same with other characters too...
Published on 8 July 2012 by Ali


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable page turner, 3 Aug. 2012
This review is from: A Perfectly Good Man (Paperback)
I've come to the conclusion that Patrick Gale is like Joanna Trollope for those whose families are more complicated than the stereotypical married couple with 2 kids that the Daily Mail would probably like us all to be part of. I love his books. They are always perceptive about families in all their complexity, and he's never judgemental about his characters; we can make up our one minds. This time around he introduces us to Barnaby who is a priest: a good man, trying to do the right thing, even if he is as flawed a human being as everyone else.

The story is told through different perspectives at different times over the past sixty years - which I liked but I see some other reviewers didn't. I didn't find it at all confusing - the characters were all (apart from one, who really was a bad guy) strong and the way the story unfolded was more interesting than a "straight" narrative because the reader has to do some work to make the connections. Barnaby was a wonderful character. I'm grateful to Patrick Gale for creating him and for sharing him with us in such a beautifully written book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfectly Good Man, 3 May 2012
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This review is from: A Perfectly Good Man (Hardcover)
A Perfectly Good Man

This is a wonderful poetic, perceptive and very realistic insight into a very varied group of characters, in whom the author has breathed real life. It is as if he "knows" each one of them intimately, and cares about them all. It has an emotional impact of much variety too. I felt as though these "people" had become my "friends", even the less desirable ones: I shared vividly in their joys and their sorrows.

Centred round rural Anglican life in Cornwall, but by no means exclusively so, it was for me a pure delight as was Barnaby, the principal character.

The writing (eg the second chapter) is of the finest quality. It flows naturally, like any good encounter with precious friends should.

It is a most readable and satisfying book in every way (including the ending), like a very good wine or cheese.

Probably one of the finest books I have had the pleasure to read in a long time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An imperfectly good man, 8 July 2012
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This review is from: A Perfectly Good Man (Paperback)
The man in question is Barnaby and aspects of his life and those around him are told in a variety of vignettes in the third person but centring on a different person at a different point in their lives. The episodes are not always chronological which means you get to know a character in snapshots sometimes like Lenny, the suicide from chapter one, as a disillusioned adult before encountering him as a young in love teen. It makes the reading more poignant. As always with Gale, sympathetic and flawed characters and beautifully crafted tale. Thankfully Barnaby is good but not perfect and thus more sympathetic. Though in Modest, there is a character who seems thoroughly bad or at least thoroughly unsympathetic and thus a counterpoint to Barnaby. Beautifully written. I probably preferred Notes from an Exhibition but still recommend.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a find!, 16 Aug. 2013
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Another book that I bought at the suggestion of a friend. Patrick Gale is a masterly writer and his books are like jigsaws which give you all the pieces, in the wrong order and allow you to put the story together. They are tight and well-written and a thoroughly good read.

I can do no more than recommend them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book!, 14 May 2012
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Roo B (New Zealand) - See all my reviews
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My first time reading Patrick Gale, but certainly not the last! This is a beautifully and cleverly constructed story with many strands,which gradually knit together. At the beginning I couldn't quite understand how the characters were related but all is gradually revealed and makes for a thoroughly satisfying read. Thank you!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profoundly Moving, 8 April 2012
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Mr. C. Mcintosh (Reading, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Perfectly Good Man (Hardcover)
Having read all of Patrick Gale's work for many years, I was eagerly awaiting A Perfectly Good Man and he did not disappoint. I can't remember when I read such a proufoundly moving and engaging book - a real page (ok click button kindle..) turner. Characters who draw you in with such intensity that I feel a real sense of loss having finished the book. The only thing to do now is re-read it!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gentle reflection, 9 April 2012
This review is from: A Perfectly Good Man (Hardcover)
I am comparatively new to Patrick's writing and still have some of the back catalogue to catch up on (which is great news for me!). In keeping with those books I have read, A Perfectly Good Man, has a gentleness that I find extremely touching. The book made me reflect on many issues - suicide obviously, but also the nature of goodness and human relationships. Even his creepy character was written with an empathy which perhaps hints at Patrick being a "perfectly good man" too? It is wonderful to read a book that makes you reflect but without the violent challenge often associated with 'books that make you think'.
I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this to others...and indeed have just given a copy to my mother for her birthday!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A strange format but a good read in the end, 30 Aug. 2012
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This review is from: A Perfectly Good Man (Paperback)
I was not too sure about this at first as I found the jumping about in time and with the various characters rather muddling and when certain facts were mentioned in one person's life I wasn't sure if I just didn't remember them or if I hadn't been told about them yet so just started to read on regardless in the hopes that all would be explained in the end. Mostly it was and I decided that I actually was enjoying the story and wanted to find out more. But I was still left with a feeling that perhaps I hadn't concentrated enough at the beginning. I think I enjoyed it over all though!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So appealing, 14 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: A Perfectly Good Man (Paperback)
Patrick Gale's style is so appealing - he is the master of understatement. This is a beautifully written book - crisp and clear with a kind of melancholy running through it. His style actually reminds me of Esther Freud's writing - they both have the ability to portray complex emotions and events in a very unadorned way. Barnaby is a very real and appealing character. Parts of the novel - like the day trip to London to see the march really stick in the mind. Carrie was the stand-out character for me - PG is really great at the adolescent perspective. A very satisfying novel.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Perfectly Good Read, 28 Dec. 2014
By 
Jo D'Arcy (Portsmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Perfectly Good Man (Paperback)
This story opens with impact. Lenny Barnes, paralysed from a rugby accident commits suicide in the front of the local parish priest, Barnaby Jones.

The ripple effect this has, reverberates throughout the book. But what is unique is the fact that, we are taken away from this story line and immediately thrust into that of Barnaby, his wife Dorothy, their children, Nuala and Modest.

What makes this book unique is we see each of these characters at different stages in their lives, each chapter is focusing on one character at pivotal points. They are not in any particular order more a patchwork of forming a story for the reader. I would be intrigued to learn how the author wrote this story.

With each chapter, we learn more about these characters, their background, their family their beliefs and their actions are all built upon layer upon layer. Underlying all of this is the impact of the suicide at the beginning it is still uppermost in your mind when you carry on reading.

Among these characters is the setting which this author does very well. Cornwall seems to come across as a place where dark secrets are held and how the environment either hinders or helps the decisions that these characters make. I was interested in the sections which featured Modest Carlsson in Portsmouth. Coming from that area, it was described with such clarity I knew exactly the roads, the landmarks and the church. When the story and Modest moves into Cornwall, I knew I was getting an exact description and not some glossed over ideal of what the landscape was like. This is the beauty of Patrick Gale's writing.

Gale's books tackle different and difficult issues that are perhaps not seen very often in mainstream fiction. This book was no different, do not be put off by the thought of a possible assisted suicide. This book is much more about actions and beliefs of people, religious or agnostic and the effect they have on all those close.

A book which has a tone which resonates quietly and creeps up on you when you are least expecting it to. A thoughtful read and not one to be rushed through to reach the next part.
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A Perfectly Good Man
A Perfectly Good Man by Patrick Gale (Hardcover - 15 Mar. 2012)
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