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A Sweet Obscurity by [Gale, Patrick]
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A Sweet Obscurity Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Length: 496 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Review

‘What is delightful about Gale’s fiction is that it so warmly and convincingly illuminates ordinary lives and interests. His staples are difficult loves, botched careers, tangled family histories – mainstream stuff, with the offbeat as an extra’ Daily Telegraph

‘Exerts the unmistakable force of a novelist in the process of discovering a new, strong voice. With this alarming and technically very skilful romance, he is decidedly a man to watch’ Mail on Sunday

'Flawless. Gale is a master of context and background, flinging wide the perspectives of his dramatic personae with exemplary patience and generosity. In A Sweet Obscurity's world of powerful, vatic females, where men are dreamers or ditherers, Cornwall, so far from being the land of failure, achieves a solidity and integrity whose graces are triumphantly redemptive.' TLS

‘This is arguably Gale’s most questioning, troublesome work. It amuses, startles and occasionally bewilders. A Sweet Obscurity is worth every minute of your time.’ Independent

‘Intriguing and impressive. His greatest strength lies in his sensitive evocation of those transient, often indefinable states that reveal the truth about people's deepest desires and discontents. A memorable study of a child forced cruelly, even tragically, to grow up too soon" Sunday Times

From the Back Cover

Dido, the nine-year-old heroine and emotional centre of Patrick Gale's latest painful comedy, knows that the adults that surround her, the adults who should know better, depend on her for happiness. So who is she to turn to when her short life turns upside down and tragic family history threatens to repeat itself?

Eliza, the clever, depressive young aunt who has brought Dido up as her own, and whose academic career has foundered due to the demands of unlooked for motherhood, tries and fails to give Dido the happy, normal childhood she never had herself. Her ex-husband Giles needs Dido back in his life, feeling it has lost all meaning, all substance without her. His girlfriend, Julia has been content to be the ideal stepmother but suddenly has needs of her own, and reasons for keeping the pair of them apart. Then there is Pearce, an unexpected new love interest in Eliza's messy life, desperate to give Eliza and Dido the security and protection they need. But will Eliza let him? Does she love him or is she using him to restart a stalled career?

Only Dido, unheard in the clamour of others' needs, has the power to make or break the happiness of these children in adult clothing.

''A Sweet Obscurity' is a moving and intensely felt examination of the steps to which we will go to seek protection and security in others. Returning to haunted Cornish landscapes familiar from Gale's other novels, it is the story of individuals in search of a family.'


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1278 KB
  • Print Length: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate (24 Mar. 2015)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00U0NJDVE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #34,136 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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By Susannah B TOP 100 REVIEWER on 8 Jan. 2017
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
'A Sweet Obscurity', one of Patrick Gale's longer novels, is a warm-hearted, multi-stranded story which is set in London and Cornwall and which looks at the lives of assortment of people, several of whom are struggling to cope with sensitive issues they are trying to keep hidden from those around them. Eliza, a rather disorganized musicologist suffering from bouts of depression, is separated from her husband, Giles, a professional counter-tenor singer. She has spent the last nine years bringing up her deceased sister's daughter, the surprisingly mature Dido, and since the separation lives in a council flat in Islington. Eliza was working for a doctorate but, for various reasons, she has abandoned her research work on the Elizabethan madrigal and the compositions of the Cornish poet-composer Roger Trevescan, and is now feeling despondent and directionless. She is also worrying about something which affected her sister when she was alive, and something which could have a huge impact on Dido's future life.

Giles now lives with his girlfriend, the cool and very business-like Julia, who runs his home and professional life with aplomb, but he still has a close relationship with the nine-year-old Dido (having married Eliza when Dido was a baby) and they continue to spend time together. However, when Dido discovers something about Giles that upsets and confuses her, their relationship takes a turn for the worse and Guy, filled with guilt and remorse, is unsure how to deal with the situation. Julia, meanwhile, makes a life-altering discovery of her own; however, aware that Giles is attracted to her but not in love with her, she is not sure how he will react to her news, and this forces her think more closely about the future of their relationship.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Another beautifull book by Patrick Gale. Sad to finish the story,waiting for a new one very soon I always hope
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
What a great book. Mr gale draws you in to Cornwall and people attached to the place and each other. Perfect holiday read.
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Great transaction. Thanks.
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Very good holiday read comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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Format: Paperback
Another great read from Patrick Gale. A Sweet Obscurity is a tale of disparate adults all with their own needs and hope. Some are living in London and some in Cornwall - we know that somehow their lives will overlap and so we are compelled to read on...... At the heart of the book is Dido, a feisty nine year old who at times acts as parent to her stepmother/biological aunt Eliza. We know that there is some mystery about Dido's mother but we are kept in suspense until the very end. The plotting is ingeniously worked out and the whole work is a very satisfying read with a "feel good" ending.

I can understand why Gale has such a firm fan base even though he will never feature in the more prestigious literary prize lists. Based on my other book reviews I thought this book deserved three stars - but that seemed a bit mean so I have upgraded it to four stars. (I find the star ratings the most difficult part of reviewing!)
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Format: Paperback
When reading Patrick Gale, one always gets a warm, calm, fuzzy feeling. His novels conjure visions of fireside chats on cold winter evenings, and the affectionate bliss of domestic life. A Sweet Obscurity, although not his best work, certainly invokes such images, while also presenting a rather dark, but hopeful look at modern, untypical relationships and families. Like its predecessor, Rough Music, landscape plays a distinct role; Gale's sophisticated Londoners are transported to Cornwall where they discover both an alternative rhythm of life and a healthier way of living.
Eliza is a musicologist who has lost her way. She's wrecked her marriage with a foolish liaison, and is now living in some squalor in a council flat, while taking care of her young niece, Dido. Since her mother's death in a climbing accident, Dido has lived with Eliza, but Eliza is haunted by fears that her sister's medical problems might have been passed on to the child. Eliza "faces the bossy arrival of daylight with a kind of horror," and she sees with a stark clarity how cruel a sentence she and Dido are living under. She dearly loves her niece, but she is lonely, and short of money. Painfully honest, she acknowledges how much she misses her time as an Oxford student researching Elizabethan madrigals.
Giles is her estranged husband, an operatic counter tenor. He still loves Dido and claims, when it suits him, a paternal role in the child's life. A professional singer, he is haunted by his mother's sexual abuse and funnels his insecurities into his singing. He has a kind of cozy, simplistic domestic arrangement with his girlfriend Julia, but in all honesty, he still loves Eliza. The madrigal songs serve to cast their spell on Giles - "a kind of decorously erotic melancholy, ironing smooth his troublesome thoughts.
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By A Customer on 23 Sept. 2003
Format: Paperback
Gale's books are always such a pleasure to read, fill such a scantly provided for niche in the market, that his readers await their arrival with something like the anticipation of a kid drooling over the latest Harry Potter. For here is a writer who works within the best traditions of the English generational saga. Comparisons with Joanna Trollope are often made, but parallels with Iris Murdoch are not far from the mark either: there's a depth of perception, a lack of sentimentality to his writing that makes the big selling 'lager sagas' of lad fiction pale into historical insignificance.
'A Sweet Obscurity' sees Gale pursuing favoured themes such as the outsider as the wellspring of sanity, and the portrayal of the location itself as a major character. Cornwall is again the source of inspiration here, it's gentle manners and secret folds making it the maternal bosom to which all those characters who are capable of redemption will return. But there's far more to it than English Pastoral: deformity, adult/child se***l relations, depression and dislocation are all present too, with the female characters, as always, receiving the most cleanly drawn parts and making the strongest choices.
There's humour, mystery, and a delicate layering of history with the present that makes the characters more than merely of today. There's also some superbly crafted prose, of a quality that puts most of his peers to shame.
'A Sweet Obscurity' is probably too good for the prizes. It's a real novel, not a novelty, and as such should be cherished.
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