Caesar’s Wife (1991)
A stylish, thick-skinned publisher is thrown into confusion when the wealthy businessman who has long maintained her as his mistress is widowed. Now that he’s free to marry her, does she want to give up her independence? Or could she, perhaps, engage his gay son to help her find him a new wife?
Notoriously the hardest title to track down in Patrick’s backlist because it was published under the title Secret Lives along with novels by his friends Francis King and Tom Wakefield.
Excitingly, it is being reissued in a collected edition of all Patrick’s shorter fiction: Three Decades of Stories. To order the book through bookshop.org and thus support local bookshops click here.
Publisher: Constable / Serpent's Tail
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Reviews of Caesar’s Wife
All three novellas are humorous and moving, but Gale’s glows with a subtle polish the others lack. “People aren’t what you think they are,”; remarks Brenda’s narrow sister. Nor are books, as Secret Lives proves; at arm’s length, it’s hodgepodge; up close, intricate patterns emerge.
Short fiction, however good, is notoriously hard to publish. This volume of three novellas is an interesting attempt to surmount the difficulties. The writers are all fine stylists and their stories explore the pains and complications of relationships lived in secret.
Three novellas from very different writers whose shared theme is the complexity and isolation of lives lived in a way that society
considers abnormal. All three writers convey well the loneliness of those whom circumstances have condemned to lead secret lives but although Gale comes out most strongly on the positive aspects, they all obviously believe that conformity is not an entirely good thing.
In Caesar’s Wife, Patrick Gale deals with successful people. Mary, an efficacious editor, becomes the mistress of Tom, an enormously wealthy man. Tom’s wife dies and he wants the obvious. There are lots of intricate twists and turns and a new one on the ideal Social Services client. All are beautifully written and are to blame for one burnt dinner and two stood-up friends. Each has gay characters and each is set within a different social class. A great start to 1993.
Northern Star – Alan Keill-Griffin
Three studies of hidden lives, characters living among the unsuspecting; Patrick Gale’s novella is written from the point of view of a mistress who defies convention by attending her lover’s wife’s funeral then tracks back to tell the complex story of her affair, her publishing house career, her confiding in her lover’s son and so on. The tangled love affair, with a witty set up of writer and lover at a book launch party, is cleverly plotted and recounted. A most enjoyable work of fiction. One of the best books yet from Serpent’s Tail. Buy it.
What’s On South East
Unusually this unites in one volume three novellas by different authors. All share a touching melancholia.
The Mail on Sunday – Sean Thomas
Caesar’s Wife, Patrick Gale’s story of illicit romance between a millionaire married tycoon and a career-led single girl is removed
of emotional and passion. Situations change when his wife dies and she years for their secret life to continue untinged by normality (i.e. marriage)… The novellas compliment each other, and although sad, sorry tales, each leaves one with a nice
feeling with reinforces our need for an element of secrecy in our lives.
Gay Community News – Suzy Byrne