The itch to give the author a good smacking for some outrageous coincidences and voluptuous flings gives way to admiration for his splendidly realised Cornish moorland setting, wellies, ruts, dripping sheep, hardly a man in sight…Gale’s special forte being pathos into bathos, tears of desolation leaking in to the gravy, but he writes about the difficult emotions with delicacy, perception and a rare ferocious charm.

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