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A Perfectly Good Man Hardcover – 15 Mar 2012

4.1 out of 5 stars 211 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (15 Mar. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007313470
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007313471
  • Product Dimensions: 14.1 x 3.5 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (211 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 317,950 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


‘Guaranteed to give the reader a warm glow’ Independent

‘At his best, Gale is an effortlessly elastic storyteller, a writer with heart, soul, and a dark and naughty wit, one whose company you relish and trust. In fact you feel you would believe anything he told you – and if I have a small complaint, it's that he sometimes doesn't quite seem to realise it, doesn't trust in his own genuine power. Now and then he writes a little too hard, too carefully or too deliberately. Relax, you want to tell him. Trust yourself, because we do. Do less, because what you do is already so effective. But it's a minor quibble in a novel which managed to upset and uplift me in equal measure, and which kept me company – and kept me guessing – right through to its slightly bitter and heartfelt end’ Julie Myerson, Observer

‘What Gale does so well is to delineate the unpremeditated spider-web consequences of actions, most particularly those where the intentions are apparently perfectly "good". The unfolding nightmare for all the family of the consequences of adopting are exquisitely and painfully documented… The final chapter left me with a lump in my throat’ Salley Vickers, Guardian

‘Late at night on the day a new Patrick Gale arrives I am always to be found crouching on the icy bathroom floor, banished from the bedroom for keeping my husband awake, feverishly turning the pages. The pins and needles are terrible, but worth it.’ Spectator

‘Warm and humane, this novel is beautifully written’ The Times

‘This being Gale there’s a compelling tale to be told … a convincing, moving account of man’s struggle with faith, marriage and morality’ Sunday Times

About the Author

Patrick Gale was born on the Isle of Wight in 1962. He spent his infancy at Wandsworth Prison, which his father governed, then grew up in Winchester. He now lives on a farm near Land's End. His most recent novels are The Whole Day Through and the Richard & Judy bestseller Notes from an Exhibition.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Patrick Gale's latest offering is wonderful and marvellous. I can't remember when I've read a book that has so moved and enchanted me.I live in West Cornwall and was born here. I know all the places where Patrick Gale sets the story. They've been familiar to me since I was a child. This has added considerably to my enjoyment of his novel. I'm also an Anglican priest and and in my ministry share much of what Patrick writes.
It is the story of a vicar, the triumphs, the failures, heart-aches, the loves, the doubts and set backs of this man. I loved especially the portraits and stories of each character in the novel. There are many flash-backs to former years and this method of recalling the past into the present is extremely effective. Tears and laughter follow each other like sunshine after rain.
I've read most of the author's books and I think this is his best...Wonderful and marvellous is an apt appellation.
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Format: Paperback
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 craft and art. And it is subtle from the start; we know that the phrase 'perfectly good' is not all that it seems even if the 'but' that might follow it is unsaid.

A Perfectly Good Man is written from the view point of a over half a dozen characters, each chapter being the character at a particular age, allowing the narrative to build from person to person. What is especially interesting is that the character studies are not chronological so understanding of history and motivation is released only gradually. It would be interesting to read just the character studies of one character at a time or to read the studies in chronological order. If this were an e-book we might do this easily but I suspect Patrick Gale is not a writer who wants to play with form in this way and that he wants to tell the story as he wants it told. Fair enough.

The novel is prefaced with a quote from Thomas à Kempis about our imperfections from his De Imitatione Christi. The same book features in the novel, but more importantly it is the idea that any one person has dark and light in their personality, and that both nature and nurture has a part to play in making people, that underpins A Perfectly Good Man.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Another beautifully written masterpiece from Patrick Gale. The dramatic countryside of Cornwall is the backdrop for this tale of good and not so good. Father Barnaby is present at the suicide of Lenny, a young parishioner paralysed in a rugby accident.
Each chapter is written from the perspective of a different character, from different times in their lives. Gale is a master storyteller who cleverly keeps his audience guessing and reveals snippits of information so as a reader you are constantly re-evaluating what you know of the characters. A fantastic read, and a definite contender for my book of the year already. I would love to say so much more, but don't want to ruin your enjoyment of this book by spoiling any of the treats and surprises that are in store for you, read it for yourself and enjoy!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In between reading Patrick Gale novels I always forget just how good they are. This one doesn't disappoint - I found myself thinking about it during the day, and going back and rereading sections. He portrays a perfectly fallible priest and the people around him with insight and sensitivity; I tend to feel a bit sad after his books - I think because they don't shy away from the everyday pains of life. But it's by no means unremittingly gloomy, there are many really uplifting thing in this, too. A really good read - highly recommended.
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By Katharine Kirby TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 April 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Patrick Gale has again settled happily into using what is close to hand. This is a great joy for everyone who loves his home patch of West Cornwall. He makes it perfectly clear that his characters are made up but the places are real and you can visit them - thank goodness for his not messing about with their true names.

Reading A Perfectly Good Man made me dizzy, as if plunging my face into the most delicious rose and emerging slightly drunk with scent and beauty. The times and people are chopped about, at first apparently seeming randomly. Later it collects up neatly into a perfect whole. In the absence of a list I have copied out the chapter headings just to indicate what kind of layout the story takes. No need to read through all these, just take in the pattern.

Lenny at 20, Dorothy at 24, Barnaby at 60, Modest Carlsson at 64, Barnaby at 52, Dorothy at 34, Barnaby at 40, Carrie at 11, Barnaby at 29, Modest Carlsson at 55, Nuala at 36, Jim at 12, Barnaby at 21, Lenny at 14 ¾, Carrie at 35, Barnaby at 16, Modest Carlson at 75, Phuc at 27, Nuala at 56, Barnaby at 8.

All important threads run properly through the time lapses, with thoughtfully chosen seeds deftly planted to emerge fruitfully later. Comfortably, characters from previous work reappear, the Quaker family of Rachel Kelly being a joy to meet again.

The tale revolves around Barnaby, a quiet parish priest who looks after the churches of Morvah and Pendeen. Beautifully told and movingly tied up, the world of this far country parish is alive with secrets, devices and desires of the heart, appearances and, lurking in the shadows, a sly, evil worm in the bud.

I have read every book written by Patrick Gale and am a great admirer.
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