Learn more about Patrick Gale.
Friendly Fire Paperback – 7 Jan 2008
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‘Utterly compelling from first to last: sad and funny and written with the matchlessly fine yet modest prose that marks him out as such a superb writer’ Stephen Fry
'Friendly Fire is an intense tale of love, life, intellectualism and passion. Inspirational' Daily Express
'Patrick Gale is a writer who has always seemed particularly well attuned to the assorted agonies and ecstasies of childhood…The emotions still ring true' Daily Mail
‘Gale's finely tuned rites of passage novel depicts a learning curve of betrayal and shame’ Metro
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 bestsellers Notes from an Exhibition and A Perfectly Good Man.
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Top Customer Reviews
Whilst there were parts of the book that I thought went on a bit too much (too much description and in-talk about boarding school life, layout and study) overall I enjoyed the book. Parts of it were quite touching and moving such as when Sophie learned about her past, and I also thought the boys’ family lives were well described. Their unabashed exploration of their sexuality was also good to read rather than the more normal self-abasement and terror usually written about boys at that age. However, all is not sweetness and light and they have to face prejudice that turns violent, and have to live within the confines of both the school’s and their families’ boundaries. It all leads to a dramatic and unexpected climax which I did not see coming.
Enjoyable – and well worth a read
Although the plot is mostly fictitious, Patrick Gale has drawn on his own schooldays at Winchester College for his inspiration for this novel, and he has written a compelling and very atmospheric tale and one that is a coming-of-age story with a rather darker edge.Read more ›
Themes recur as well as places: the outsider as the reference point for sanity (and often morality) and the use of a central character who is in some way freakish: Sophie, our protagonist here, has a bizarrely parent-less and yet multi-parented life and is reminiscent of Dido from A Sweet Obscurity in that though a child, she has a certain grave maturity which affects the lives of the adults around her.
These outsiders' stories may or may not carry some metaphorical representation of Gale's experiences as a gay man but what is fascinating is his ability to find the dystopic in the 'normal' and set it against the surer groundings which the freaks have managed to dredge out of their less-than-fortunate circumstances.
I've just read Kazuo Ishiguro's 'Never Let Me Go' and there are interesting comparisons: Ishiguro's narrative is also set in a boarding school, also focuses on the interplay between apparently unusual children and the adult world around them. But Gale's story is the subtler of the two in that he does the whole job with character, rather than needing to invent a sinister parallel reality in order to provide the metaphorical underpinnings for outsider-hood.
I noted in a previous review that Gale is often compared to Joanna Trollope and Iris Murdoch. In Friendly Fire, we get a good taste of Dickens too: When Dr Harestock announces the morning hymn he 'never treated the first line as a title but read until the first full stop.' In Great Expectations, Mr.Read more ›
The characters, Charlie, Lucas and Mr Compton are drawn much more convincingly than the straight ones - Sophie, Wilf and Margaret.
Overall an enjoyable read but not the definitive seventies school novel.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was not my first Patrick Gale book, thankfully, as, had it been, I may not have returned for more. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Dillon the Villain
Patrick Gale is such a brilliant author. A story teller who makes places and characters come to life. He never tells too much or too little.Published 6 months ago by ewan robertson
Gripping brilliant plot with carefully created narratives excellently researched and executed . A subject which was both complex and dangerous.Published 9 months ago by Colin Hutchinson
Loved it! Patrick Gale's stylish narrative and sensitive characterisation does it again. A great read.Published 12 months ago by Sally Jeffery
Gay adolescence at private school through eyes of female friend. Usual sensitivity but thinking I'm rather Galed-out and await him returning to broader themes than sexual identity.Published 15 months ago by Graeme Nixon