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3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 28 December 2009
This is one of Gale's earlier novels and although it has many of the hallmarks of the great writing shown in his later novels, it just isn't up to their standard. The large cast of characters are well-rounded with stacks of background, but in many ways it is like reading a book of short stories which are all related, as the central plot takes avery long time to come to the surface. Had the writing style not been so engaging, I would have given up on this fairly early on.
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on 21 May 2010
Anyone looking to adapt one of Patrick Gale's books for the screen might try this one, which has lots of local colour, lots of ripe characterisation, and lots of simultaneous subplots, just like a Midsomer Murder. But unlike Midsomer Murders, Facing the Tank suffers from uncertainty of tone, and at times its burlesque is reminiscent of Tom Sharpe's comic novels, which in this context is counterproductive. It doesn't help that the main characters are neither admirable nor likeable, and there are subplots which just vanish, and others which spring into existence unexplained. Without giving any of the plot away, several of these blind alleys involve children. The main plot vehicles manage to avoid the pile-up at the end, and the book offers lots of compensations along its convoluted way, but it seems to be an early and formative work.
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on 23 January 2016
I generally read Gale when I want a guaranteed satisfactory book. Downloaded this on kindle but did not enjoy it as much as the other books I read from him ( Notes form an exhibition, Rough Music, A perfectly Ordinary man ) There were a lot of characters involved, and although they were each interesting, they were not developed enough for me to really creep under their skin, which I have done in the other books. Also the title and the 'plot' were a bit unfinished for me. Probably quite a true depiction of 'real life' characters and events, a lot of storylines were left hanging . Will not stop me from reading other books though, Gale is very high on my list of favourites.
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on 6 January 2013
This could just be a late 1980s AIDS novel, but it decides to take as its main theme a black comedy of religious experience and small town life, and applies several hard twists to the plot.

First twist, the people that have AIDS are not the gay interior design couple - Fergus' partner died of cancer even though Fergus tried shocking the relatives with an alternative `truth'. The people who recklessly disregard `safe' sex are Tobit the celibate `ex-gay' who has got the `booby prize' from a one night stand and his new highly sexed female lover Gloire who is a medical student who ought to know better than say ridiculous things like `the lady does not like latex'.

Second twist, the location is not urban but a place combining Trollope's Barchester and Gale's public school - everything happens around the Cathedral close.

Third twist, miracles really do happen (much to the shock of the sceptical bishop); the local saint really did have wings, and has come back to collect a few souls and has asked for a room at the local B&B; the cleaning lady is a witch and she is summoning her child from the grave. None of the worst and most startling things that happen require explanation or resolution. They are simply piled on to a plot full of events in a world of fantastical happenings and the arrival of the Angel/ blond Norse patron saint against a backdrop of evensong, arcane school rules, tourists, a gift shop, the cathedral's failing foundations and a nursing home.

The novel initially claims to be about two people - Evan and his research, and Madeleine who has accidentally seduced a Cardinal and become pregnant and who arrives fleeing from the paparazzi. But in the end these two characters almost seem like a picture frame for a wide canvas where witches and devils have taken over the Cathedral rebuilding works and mayhem is working its way through small streets.
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VINE VOICEon 1 September 2012
This is one of Patrick Gale's earlier works, and lacks his later sureness of touch. It is set in a cathedral city,presumably based loosely on Winchester, and perhaps aims at being a Trollope for our times.He seems to be trying to do too much in this book; there are too many characters, and too many sub-plots. It is quite hard to work out which of the threads is supposed to be the main story line - and it doesn't help that most of the characters are not particularly endearing.[ ...and I came to loathe Emma with a passion]Some good touches, and interesting to read if you are familiar with his later excellent writing, but not really one to recommend.
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on 4 June 2015
As usual Patrick gives a quirky view of life in the provinces. His characterisation is brilliant.
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on 9 August 2015
I found this a very cliched and banal novel, not at all like Gale's other novels
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on 4 August 2015
Way too wordy... not a lot seems to happen for quite a long time. Disappointed.
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on 14 January 2016
Patrick Gale rarely disappoints and this book is no exception.
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on 7 August 2015
another good read by Patrick I would recommend it
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