Patrick Gale is among the great, unsung English novelists. He has written a dozen books, each confirming a remarkable insight into his chosen subject, the vagaries of the human heart. His works attract large readerships – mostly women or gay men – drawn by the witty, pathos-filled analyses of how we conduct relationships, both within the family and outside. Gale has never mistaken self-publicity for literary importance. His novels form a quiet gathering, not a series of brash entrances. They impress confidently but gently, like those of the closest of his peers, Barbara Trapido, Helen Dunmore and Colm Toibin… If Rough Music sounds dark, it is rather – but marvellously so. Gripping, elegant and wise, it is Gale’s best book to date, and should not be missed.

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