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by Wendle

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Notes From an Exhibition

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Book Twenty Six.

It’s a quiet book. There are no huge revelations or action-packed scenes. It reveals its secrets slowly, over the course of the entire book, making each chapter a short story of its own that overlaps and weaves with the others.

I read it as much more of a character study than simply a narrative, and enjoyed it this way. I got to know these characters, their history, and explore how they each dealt with family, mental illness and death. No character was perfect, but neither was anyone entirely flawed. Seeing the same things from several points of view, and at different stages of the non-linear timeline gives the reader an omniscient perspective of events. It makes it hard to make any judgements on the characters involved and i finished the book with a sense that in spite of people’s intentions, life is random, unpredictable and completely out of our control.

As much as i can praise this books, as very well-written as it was… it’s just not my thing. I enjoyed it immensely for all of the above reasons, but it is not the kind of book i would usually read. I would not be able to read books like this too often; they would eventually bore me, i think. I need a little excitement, a little more humour and less normality. But as a one-off, i am very pleased i picked up this book.

(Longer review at:

Jane Doe says:

It's one of my favourite books. You'll be familiar with the setting from your Cornwall trips: I've read everything by Patrick Gale, prefer the Cornwall ones to those set in Winchester. His two short story collections are much darker, maybe more to your taste?

You might also like Rough Music or The Facts of Life as they are quite complex.

Notes From an Exhibition also reads well as a companion to Atwood's Cat's Eye, in terms of looking back at an artist's life and work.

Gale also did an edition of Literary Landscapes on Cornwall recently for Radio 4

15th Sep 2013, 12:01

Wendle says:

I have Rough Music on my book shelf and will read it at some point in the future. I enjoyed the writing style immensely, the genre is just not something i read regularly. I will look into his short stories :)

22nd Sep 2013, 09:55