Once again, I have discovered a new author, and once again, the genre of short stories (a bit of a necessity for me in these insomniac days) is what I am reading. I found this book in an independent bookshop in Marlborough. The cover intrigued me, and I was hoping for a short story collection. The author is English, and so captured the domesticity of daily life that is so often what pulls you into a short story, so that you can be captured by the twist. And the twists! Roald Dahl, with his Tales of the Unexpected, taught me to love short stories with a sting in the tale. But, so often, the twist is the focal point of the story. Not so with Gale – here the twist, although sometimes surprising or even shocking, does not dominate but adds a certain piquancy to proceedings – rather like the eponymous relish. One tale is set in a prison environment, and conjures up wonderfully the harshness of life in Portland for those who worked in the gaol there. One tale has a curious magical element, hearkening back to the pagan heritage of these lands, but without becoming ridiculous or marvelous. One has a marvelous vengeance wrought by a waspish son. These were great companions for me on the train, and in my room. I have already started reading another work by Gale; watch this space!

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