Ben and Laura, the protagonists of Gale’s wistful novel, were once an item at university, until he married somebody else. Having settled into the unglamorous careers of genito-urinary medicine and accountancy respectively, the pair cross paths years later when Laura answers the call of duty to help care for her mother in Winchester. Here she briefly re-encounters Ben (conveniently minus his wife) who is looking after his Down’s syndrome-sufferer gay brother. It is soon apparent that a spark still exists between them, and during the course of a summer’s day, memories are revisited, hearts, souls and consciences searched, and second chances fleetingly emerge. The author is unfailingly adept at delineating low-level domestic conflicts, and in this instance his fluid telescoping of past and present adds to the mood of quiet poignancy. That said, however, there are swathes of the novel where Gale seems to be going through the motions as much as the emotions, making his thwarted romantics feel as transient as the day itself.

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