This book has to be my most anticipated read of 2018 and I was over the moon when I received an early copy. It most definitely did not disappoint. But then, I am never disappointed with a Patrick Gale novel. (I am still beside myself that part of my review for the wonderful A Place Called Winter is quoted on his website!)
Take Nothing With You is the story of Eustace. On the face of it, it’s a coming of age tale, something which has been done so many times before but feels fresh and new with Patrick Gale’s compelling and elegant writing. Throughout the book, Eustace is learning what’s important in life, who he is, what matters. Passion runs permeates the book. A quiet passion for music and indeed for life. There are also chapters from an older Eustace’s point of view. This is a Eustace facing his own mortality, looking back at what and who he has loved.
Eustace has an inspirational music teacher in Carla Gold and later her own mentor Jean Curwen. Who would think that chapters about learning to play and buying a cello could be so enthralling? Yet in Patrick Gale’s masterful hands, they are just that. His own passion for music is clear and conveyed so beautifully through Eustace.
The lesser characters in the book are no less significant. Carla’s friends and flatmates Louis and Ebrahim who show Eustace there is nothing out of the ordinary in a loving gay relationship, his friend Vernon, who was not afraid to be that bit individual and looked after his ailing father with quiet dignity, even Eustace’s mother who wasn’t particularly likeable. All in some way served to show the complexities and variety of adult relationships.
Take Nothing With You is a wonderful read. It’s powerful, touching and thought-provoking and fully deserves a five star rating. In fact, it’s deserving of more than five. I can’t wait for the Edinburgh Book Festival event next month to hear the author talk about this book. Eustace and his cello have stolen my heart.
My very grateful thanks to Tinder Press for kindly sending me a copy of the book. It will be available from 21st August in hardback and as an ebook and I believe the author himself is narrating the audiobook version. The paperback will follow next April. You can pre-order your copy of the book here: Take Nothing With You. Tinder Press have recently re-jacketed all Patrick Gale’s earlier novels and they really are beautiful so do have a look at them if you are ordering a copy and maybe treat yourself to something from his back catalogue.
From the back of the book
1970s Weston-Super-Mare and ten-year-old oddball Eustace, an only child, has life transformed by his mother’s quixotic decision to sign him up for cello lessons. Music-making brings release for a boy who is discovering he is an emotional volcano. He laps up lessons from his young teacher, not noticing how her brand of glamour is casting a damaging spell over his frustrated and controlling mother.
When he is enrolled in holiday courses in the Scottish borders, lessons in love, rejection and humility are added to daily practice.
Drawing in part on his own boyhood, Patrick Gale’s new novel explores a collision between childish hero worship and extremely messy adult love lives.
About the author