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 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.