- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Harper Perennial (14 May 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0007307659
- ISBN-13: 978-0007307654
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 157,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
A Sweet Obscurity Paperback – 14 May 2009
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‘What is delightful about Gale’s fiction is that it so warmly and convincingly illuminates ordinary lives and interests.’ 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.'--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. See all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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!)
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.Read more ›
'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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This big, deeply satisfactory novel explores the lives of a group of people in their early thirties who all in different way feel let down by life and are carrying secrets with... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Kate Hopkins
I did enjoy reading this book and there were many good things about it - the views into the lives of farmers and opera singers were very well done and interesting in their own... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Stuart C.
Since starting with Notes from an Exhibition, I have been reading all Patrick Gale's books with great enjoyment. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Mrs. H. E. Bacon
Typical Patrick Gale. One of my favourite authors. Interesting characters and an unexpected twist at the end. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Winifred