Patrick Gale’s Take Nothing With You begins with a hero in crisis. Eustace, aged 50 and HIV-positive, has cancer and is on the brink of falling in love. His only close friend is Naomi, a brilliant cellist who has given up performing. Eustace was once a cellist too and music was his escape from a peculiar childhood — he grew up in an old people’s home in Weston-super-Mare. He returns to the past to tell the whole story.

Into the life of young Eustace — and the life of his disappointed, controlling mother — comes a bohemian cello teacher, and the confused boy is shown a new and bewildering world of adult emotions. There is a natural warmth to Gale’s writing and, without losing sympathy with his dotty characters, he is very amusing.

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