Learn more about Patrick Gale.
Tree Surgery for Beginners Paperback – 14 May 2009
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‘In this very fine novel Patrick Gale proves, yet again, that he is both an exceptionally acute observer of human nature and a storyteller of the first order.’ Barbara Gowdy
‘The book is one of his best: a fluently constructed narrative underpinned by excellent characterisation. Running through it all is the theme of redemption; and the hero's journey from despair to hope makes a stirring odyssey for the reader.’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Gale’s energetic novel is a carnival of events in which credible characters find themselves in incredible situations.’ Daily Telegraph
‘Gale is at his most insightful in his descriptions of character, both of individuals and of the Frost family as a whole. Tree Surgery for Beginners’ is a comic thriller in which “family tree” takes on new meanings.’ Observer
‘This is vintage Patrick Gale – witty, funny, poignant, and utterly absorbing.’ Patricia Duncker
From the Back Cover
FAMILIES, LIKE PLANTS, GROW MOST STRONGLY WHERE YOU CUT THEM
As befits the hero of a modern fairy tale, Lawrence Frost has neither father nor siblings, and fits so awkwardly into his worldly mother’s life, he might have dropped from the sky. A true misfit, he grows up happier communing with nature than with people. Whilst he is straightforward, honest and a doting dad, he can be a difficult taciturn husband – but he’s the last person one would suspect of being a killer… Then he wakes in the woods one morning to find himself branded a wife-beater and under investigation for murder. Suddenly, his small world falls apart as he loses wife, daughter, liberty, livelihood and, almost, his mind.
In late Shakespeare he would be banished or shipwrecked. This being mid period Gale, he is sent on the holiday from hell. Bereft and confused, he undergoes a journey of penance and self discovery across the Atlantic to the Caribbean where a passionate liaison with a living legend throws his life into further chaos. Meanwhile the exasperated women in his life – mother, wife and enigmatic mistress – are forced to accept that their lives must feel the gardener’s blade if they are to bloom afresh. Seeking sanctuary at an alternative therapy centre among the giant redwoods of northern California, Lawrence finally stumbles on a possibility of happiness, but not before chance encounters and long hidden secrets have conspired to unearth the deeply buried roots of his misfortune.
With a bold mix of tragicomedy, harsh truth and sublime fantasy, Patrick Gale has created a 'Winter’s Tale' for the millennium – a vivid and compelling portrait of a man at odds with himself and an extended family of friends and lovers trying to take its proper shape.
“Gale is an elegant and witty writer with an engagingly bizarre imagination.”
“Gale’s blend of artifice and realism is not quite like anybody else’s.”
“Gale is a master of character, and he slips under the skins of his women protagonists with such wit that it’s often hard to believe he’s a man.”
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Top Customer Reviews
After that we are spun off into several little threads; the murder plot makes an unexpected re-appearance, an unsuccesful attempt is made to flesh out the wife and mother characters and there are a couple of highly unlikely co-incidences that take quite a bit of swallowing. I wasn't at all surprised to read an interview where the author admits to not really following any kind of plan in this book - he just let the characters do what they wanted to do!
Despite all this, I did enjoy 'Tree Surgery'. Patrick Gale is capable of writing with a delicious wit that is sometimes not very evident in his more 'serious' works. Here, I believe his tongue is very often firmly in his cheek - at least, I hope so...surely no-one could have created a character like Lala and expect her to be taken seriously! Ultimately though, it is let down by its characters and a lack of warmth. Tragic things happen in this book and yet they pass for nothing, we don't care because everything and everyone is so thinly drawn - a pity!
The other characters are really too stereotypical - the hurt wife, the effete uncle, the matching American cruisers, the best mate and the ludicrous Christian neighbour. It is only that Gale is such a good writer that this does not become truly terrible. If you think of it as early writing and forgive him (especially as later goes on to write such wonderful books) and maybe think of this as his attempt at something multi layered aiming for a Barbara Trapido type of family saga, then you might enjoy it. But really there are many many better books out there and quite a few by Gale himself. Odd and perhaps for completists only.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As with all Patrick Gale's books there is tremendous characterisation, the reader almost feels that they are reading about people that they know, that they are involved in the... Read morePublished 19 months ago by Chirpy
I love Patrick Gale's writing and this book certainly does not disappoint. His characters are so skilfully painted and human. You need to know what happens to them. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Casey
In the middle of this one now, as always I love all books by Patrick Gayle.Published on 4 Nov. 2014 by lesley griffin
I chose this with confidence because I love Patrick Gale's books, but I'm afraid I was disappointed in this one. Read morePublished on 24 Nov. 2013 by L. Barlow
Haven't got round to reading it yet but it looks interesting, it was in good condition and it arrived very promptly. Looking forward to getting stuck in, thanksPublished on 2 July 2013 by susie
Not a patch on Notes from an Exhibition which was wonderful. Tree Surgery for Beginners had characters who were difficult to warm to and a complicated and silly plot. Read morePublished on 19 Sept. 2010 by BrendaMc