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The Facts of Life Paperback – 14 May 2009

3.4 out of 5 stars 31 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (14 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007307667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007307661
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 212,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

‘Deftly characterised, deeply involving and relevant. A memorable achievement’ The Times

‘It is impossible to put “The Facts of Life” down. A rural English blockbuster. It is beautifully done’ Daily Telegraph

‘Patrick Gale offers us so much more than facts in this extraordinary blockbuster of a novel. Its exploration of family ties and tyranny is encompassed within a deft narrative. Much like the late Ivy Compton-Burnett, Gale presents us with a family saga which both questions and defies present day morality. Always fluent, Gale manages to be both brutal and witty. His analysis of the family tree is rooted in compassion and insight and expounded resoundingly well’ Time Out

‘Gale’s best and most complex novel. Gale is both a shameless romantic and hip enough to get away with it’ New Statesman

About the Author

Patrick Gale was born in 1962 on the Isle of Wight. 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.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I really enjoyed this book, much more so than I was expecting to. The book is in two parts, the first details an unlikely post war love story with the lives and loves of their grandchildren filling the second part of the book. These could almost be two separate books but there is a similarity as both tales cover all aspects of the Facts of Life both good and bad, finding love and enduring tragedy. I thought there was a real warmth and honesty to the characters and you felt for and cared about both sets of couples. The horror of the impact of AIDS on both victim and family was excellently portrayed, with the sadly inevitable outcome bringing real emotion to me.

The book is so much better than the impression given by the bland blurb on the back of the book.

Recommended
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Format: Paperback
Like Gale's most famous novel, 'Rough Music', 'The Facts of Life' features two narratives several years apart concerning the same family. While the two threads are not interweaved in the same way as 'Rough Music', and do not have the same obvious link, both prove gripping reads, and the strong characterisation of Edward Pepper is retained throughout. As is common in Gale's work, a key theme is homosexuality and its complexities, but it would be unfair to pigeonhole this purely as 'gay literature' - anyone who appreciates strong storytelling will enjoy this novel. The contrasts between Edward and Jamie, the similarities between Sally and Alison and the three key deaths all provide particularly strong moments; and fans of Joan Collins are sure to indulge in a wry grin at the character of Myra Toye...
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Format: Paperback
I first read this in 1995 and it has been sitting safely on a shelf, together with my nearly complete collection of Patrick Gale books for nearly twenty years. This month we are reading A Perfectly Good Man for our Book Club and so I decided to revisit The Facts of Life as background browsing.

The more innocent first part is easily reminiscent of wide ranging mid last century family novels such as The Cazalet Chronicles Collection - 4 Books (RRP £33.96). Edward/Eli Pepper/Pfefferberg, most elegantly bridges both sections. He arrives, in wretched health, at a TB hospital, to be cared for by Dr. Sally. They make friends and the book begins to take shape. As a couple they are at first bohemian then more middle class. Throughout the story, wonderful music ripples through, as an underscore. Edward earnestly composes and plays, struggles as an artist ahead of his time, to conform, earn and build a reputation. Sally settles, allowed the freedom she needs by a generous mentor, Dr. Pertwee, who gifts her The Roundel, an unusual and inspirational female entailed property, that becomes their characterful home.

This is a very good tale, a hugely involving read; all of which is suddenly turned around by a shocking event. Sally only appears twice in the second part, which takes a very different turn. Written at the height of HIV/AIDS panic Patrick Gale has sensitively and comprehensively written the ultimate account of what it meant to be alive at that time and feeling very frightened.
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Format: Paperback
I recently bought a copy of Patrick Gale's latest novel "Notes From An Exhibition" and I thought before reading it I'd re-read this book as it has always been my favourite of Gale's novels and made a real impression on me when I read it back in the mid 90's. At first I felt disappointed, I'd had this book taking up space on my bookshelves for over ten years and it really wasn't doing much for me, but then, and I think this is one of Gale's skills as a storyteller, it began to draw me in and I found myself really caring for characters I hadn't particularly liked at the start of the book. And once the author has drawn you in and you begin to care he starts to put you through the emotional wringer - one moment I was laughing aloud the next I felt like crying. There's an air of melancholic nostalgia which permeates the whole book and which is absolutely beautiful. Three generations of the Pepper family live or stay at The Roundel in this novel which spans from the post-war years to the present day. The house is given to Sally Pepper, a doctor, by a childless woman friend with the proviso that it continues to be passed down the female line of the family, but interestingly enough, it is the male characters on which the house seems to exert more of its influence, particularly Sally's husband, Edward who lives in the grounds for the duration of the novel and for whom it is an escape from the harsh realities of his past, as a German Jew and also for his grandson, Jamie, who uses the house to escape from the realities of his present, as he uses it as a retreat whilst suffering from AIDS.
It is extremely well-written and fully deserves its place on my bookshelf where it will now be going back on the space it left waiting to be re-read again at some point in the future. It still remains my favourite of Patrick Gale's novels (with "Rough Music" coming in second) and it has made me look forward to reading the new one.
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